Some Kids Aren't Scared of Deadly Cobras

If you happened to watch ABC's World News Tonight on Sunday, you may have seen my little nephew Danny crying.  He was at the Bronx Zoo, one of his favorite places, where an Egyptian cobra has gone missing.  He was crying not out of fear that the venomous creature is on the loose, but because the awesome Reptile House where it dwells has been closed until further notice while staff play a frantic game of hide-and-seek with the elusive snake whose escape-artist skills would make Harry Houdini proud. 

Another brave child on the newscast expressed the same sentiments as Danny, nodding her head "yes" when asked if she loved snakes and shaking her head "no" when asked if she was afraid of them. My nephews adore serpents -- they have a pet ball python named Percy (yes, they're big fans of Harry Potter.)  My sister told me that when the ABC reporter asked James, Danny's older brother, to name his favorite snake, he didn't miss a beat and quickly answered, "Burmese python!"

While the children's fearlessness is admirable, the Egyptian cobra's venom is deadly, so the Bronx Zoo is taking no chances, even though the missing snake is still most likely secure in a section of the Reptile House that is not accessible to the public.  A statement from the Zoo's director Jim Breheny said: "After learning the snake was missing yesterday afternoon, we immediately closed and secured the building as we took steps throughout the evening to recover the snake...We are informing the public out of an abundance of caution and will continue to take whatever steps necessary to ensure public safety...We are confident that the snake is secure within the Reptile House. To understand the situation, you have to understand snakes. Upon leaving its enclosure, the snake would feel vulnerable and seek out a place to hide and feel safe. When the snake gets hungry or thirsty it will start to move around the building. Once that happens, it will be our best opportunity to recover it."

Since the cobra is cold-blooded, and since the weather in the Bronx is rather frigid and will continue to be cold throughout the week, even if the snake somehow had the chance to escape the Reptile House, it would not go far.  It is likely curled up in a warm little nook and will soon be discovered by Zoo staff who have the site secured. 

My brave little nephews, and countless other kids (and older visitors to the Zoo who are kids at heart) are hoping that the elusive Egyptian cobra is found soon so the Reptile House can re-open, allowing snake fans to see their favorite scaly animals, learn all about them, and continue to support the Bronx Zoo's mission of saving wildlife and wild places.