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Search continues for Egyptian cobra missing from Bronx Zoo

From Leslie Tripp, CNN
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Deadly snake missing from Bronx Zoo
  • Officials hope the snake will surface when her comfort level rises
  • Staffers believe it is still in the reptile building
  • The case is similar one at the Atlanta Zoo last year
  • A Twitter account chronicling the fictitious adventures of the snake has been created

(CNN) -- It may take days or even weeks to find a venomous Egyptian cobra that has gone missing from New York's Bronx Zoo, officials say.

But staffers hold out hope that the 20-inch, pencil-thin snake is hiding out somewhere in the zoo's reptile house and will surface when her "comfort level rises."

"Our best strategy is patience, allowing her time to come out of hiding," said zoo director Jim Breheny.

"We understand the interest in this story and that everyone wants us to find the missing snake. Right now, it's the snake's game," Breheny said in a statement posted on the zoo's website Monday.

The zoo learned the adolescent Egyptian cobra was missing from an off-exhibit enclosure Saturday. Staff members closed and secured the reptile house. Daily sweeps continue.

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The zoo director said he is confident the snake will begin to move around the building to seek food and water once she feels completely secure.

The Bronx Zoo case is reminiscent of an incident at Zoo Atlanta last year when a tiger rattlesnake went missing.

Zoo officials believed the snake was hiding somewhere in the reptile house. But it was found two days later in the front porch of a neighborhood house where the homeowner had clubbed it to death -- unaware that it had escaped from the zoo.

The Egyptian cobra is most commonly found in North Africa. Its venom is so deadly that it can kill a full-grown elephant in three hours -- or a person in about 15 minutes, according to wildlife experts. The venom destroys nerve tissue and causes paralysis and death due to respiratory failure.

Scholars believe the Egyptian cobra was known in ancient times as the asp. Legend has it that Cleopatra, the ancient Egyptian queen, used an asp to commit suicide.

While zoo personnel continue their search, someone has set up a cheeky Twitter account to chronicle the snake's fictitious adventures as she apparently explores New York City.

In 11 hours since it was created Monday, the @BronxZoosCobra had collected more than 20,000 followers with tweets such as, "Leaving Wall Street. These guys make my skin crawl."