— Karla Ray (@KRayWFTV) September 3, 2015
Because the Orlando king cobra is on the loose and wandering in locations unknown, all outdoor activities at a nearby Orange County school have been cancelled. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials are searching the area for the eight-foot-long snake, which can kill with just a single bite.
— CNN (@CNN) September 3, 2015
The king cobra escaped and was reported missing by its owner, according to a statement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife agency. Schools officials in the area immediately sent a voice message to parents to alert them of the potential danger, Fox 13 notes.
“We are moving all outside activities, including P.E. and recess, inside and we will be relocating our portable classrooms inside the building,” Orange Country school Dr. Robert Strength said.
— Valerie Kennedy (@ValeriefKennedy) August 26, 2015
The cobra was reportedly kept in a home in the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road. The Orlando home is used as an exotic animals rescue facility. Although Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) officials have not released the name of the owner of the king cobra, property records appear to indicate the home is owned by Mike Kennedy. The resident operates Dragon Ranch, a non-profit exotic animal refuge.
Below is an excerpt from the Dragon Ranch website.
“Mike graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Zoology and dreamed of working with animals as his career but, as life would have it, ended up making his living in Aviation like his father before him. He never abandoned his passion for animals and has put his degree to good use caring for animals in need. Dragon Ranch is one of the only private facilities in the state of Florida authorized to rescue and rehabilitate the America Crocodile.”
FWC officials did note that the cobra’s owner is licensed by the state to possess exotic animals and did follow established regulations when reporting the snake was missing. The owner of the king cobra could still face a fine for losing the deadly viper.
“I’m a little concerned. I have a small cat at home and snakes like cats,” Orlando neighbor Bryan Shattuck said. “My wife is deathly afraid of small critters, ants, roaches. Yeah, she’s going to be freaked out.”
A king cobra bite carries enough toxin to kill 20 adults. The viper latches on once and then sinks its fangs into the skin until its prey no longer struggles. FWC officials also urged anyone who comes into contact with the snake not to engage it in any manner and to call their agency immediately. Cobras, like many snakes, shy away from humans, but can strike quickly when startled or frightened.
[Image via: Shutterstock.com]