Stowaway Cobra Found Aboard New Jersey Bound Container Ship Is Rescued

Sailors aboard the huge container ship MV Maersk Sana are thanking their stars after a highly venomous Indian cobra, also known as the spectacled cobra, was removed from the ship. The cobra was found hiding deep inside one of the ship’s cargo bays and was on board the ship for quite some time without anyone noticing. According to CBS News, the cobra was found on the last leg of its trip from Singapore to the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal in New Jersey.

The snake was first seen by some crew members aboard the ship on December 10. They then contacted the U.S. Customs and Immigration officials with their predicament. With no one else to turn to, immigration officials contacted The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and asked for their help in removing the dreaded cobra from the ship. The Bronx Zoo then got hold of their herpetologist Kevin Torregrosa who agreed to help bring the cobra out of the ship. Kevin, who had never been aboard a cargo ship was initially amazed at the size of the ship.

“We knew it was in a cargo hold on one of these ships, which I’d never been on before. It was a very large ship,” he said.

Torregrosa had brought this snake-hook and a supply of cobra antivenom just in case the distressed animal managed to bite him.

“Upon reaching the ship, the crew members showed him where they had last seen the cobra. After searching for over 30 minutes, and climbing eight stories down the ship’s huge cargo bays, he finally found the cobra. It was sitting on a platform which in a way made it easy for Torregrosa to capture it.”

“Kind of just did a sweep around, and found the snake sitting on a platform a little elevated off the ground,” he said.

Torregrosa quickly found that the cobra was a juvenile, not more than a year old, and that it was in very poor health. The long journey in the not too conducive environs of the ship had made it dehydrated. The cobra was also exposed to cold weather and was covered in oil residue.

After getting hold of it, the cobra was placed in a bite-proof snake bag and was brought to the zoo and was quickly taken to the zoo hospital, where it is now recovering. It is being fed vitamins and fluids in order to get it back in shape. Once it shows signs of recovery, zoo officials plan to feed the snake its favorite meal: mice. Torregrosa was happy with the progress the rescued cobra was making. A video has also been posted to YouTube that shows the cobra recovering.

“It’s looking good. It’s getting much better. So right now, it’s just day at a time,” Torregrosa said. In fact, he even named the snake Sana – after the ship where he found it.

The future of the cobra however remains unclear at this moment. Zoo officials are not sure if the animal will remain at the zoo permanently. Jim Breheny, the director of the Bronx Zoo said;

“We have not yet determined if the cobra will remain at the zoo permanently. At present, the snake is in quarantine and under treatment at our wildlife health center. Our main concern is to restore it to good health. We were happy to assist the ship’s crew and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with this rescue.”

If the snake does manage to make the zoo a permanent home, it would be the only one of its kind there. Moreover, it could also end up being star attraction thanks to its long trip to the U.S. from southern Asia.

[Image via Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society]