The cobra “Houdini” escapes from its terrarium, the zoo closed in emergency

Staff at Skansen Zoo in Stockholm (Sweden) were still looking for a king cobra on Monday, which took to their heels over the weekend, leading to the partial closure of the establishment. The reptile, nicknamed Sir Väs (“Sir Whistler”), arrived at the zoo only a few days ago, fled on Saturday, passing through one of the lights of its terrarium.

A video taken by a visitor witnessing the escape shows the snake, now renamed “Houdini” by the zoo, in homage to the famous magician, the head already engaged between the fixing of a lamp and the bulb, hoisting itself from one of the branches of his terrarium. The reptile section was then evacuated and remained closed until the escapee was captured.

Flour and sticky traps

According to the zoo, the snake, a cold-blooded but heat-loving animal, should now be somewhere in the ceiling. “He won’t come out, in theory, it’s so cold outside that he would fall asleep,” said Skansen aquarium director Jonas Wahlström.

In order to find his trace, the employees of the establishment used the flour and set up sticky traps. They are also equipped with special cameras so that they can inspect out-of-range recoils. The zoo’s terrarium has hosted king cobras for nearly 15 years, but it only took a few days for the new tenant to find a way out, added Jonas Wahlström. “It must be a little clever,” he said, amused.

A deadly bite

According to him, “Houdini” had an advantage over previous tenants: the staff recently replaced the lamps above the terrarium with energy-saving bulbs. “The old lamps were too hot, which kept the snakes away,” says Jonas Wahlström. “Now it’s not hot at all and the new king cobra has noticed that. He missed his head between the bulb and the lamp attachment and managed to pull himself up to the exit. »

According to him, king cobras are naturally calm and unlikely to attack. Native to South and Southeast Asia, the king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world. Its main prey is other snakes, but its bite can be fatal in humans if left untreated.

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