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Missing cobra found alive in New York's Bronx Zoo

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Missing cobra slithers home
  • An Egyptian cobra is found in the holding area of the reptile house
  • The snake has its own Twitter account, created for it anonymously
  • Its disappearance Saturday prompted the zoo to close the reptile house

New York (CNN) -- An Egyptian cobra that drew thousands of Twitter fans has been found alive after it went missing for days from a New York City zoo.

"As you can imagine, we are delighted to report that the snake has been found alive and well," Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny said Thursday.

Zoo officials conducted around-the-clock searches for the 3-ounce, 20-inch long reptile, he said.

Breheny said the cobra had sought a secure hiding spot within the holding areas of the zoo's reptile house -- a complex environment with pumps, motors and other mechanical systems.

But it was lured out after zoo officials sprinkled wood shavings from exhibit beds across areas where they guessed the cobra was hiding.

Missing cobra found alive

"It was the scent of rodents (on the wood clippings) that we hoped would bring her out," Breheny added.

"The key strategy here was patience," he said in a prepared statement.

The snake went missing Saturday from an off-exhibit enclosure, prompting the zoo to close the reptile house.

Officials had earlier cautioned that it might take days or even weeks before the snake was found, and urged the public not to panic, saying the cobra was likely contained within the building.

While the mystery of the missing snake may have caused concern for zoo-goers, it also earned a cult following online.

After launching on Monday, the anonymous @BronxZoosCobra Twitter feed had amassed nearly 200,000 followers by 6 p.m. Thursday.

The feed had given the snake a hilarious shtick by toying a bit with the fears of skittish New Yorkers.

"City may not sleep, but I'm ready to. Ooh a chimney! I bet you bragged to your friends about having a working fireplace in NYC. Hi roomie," was posted on the site.

"A lot of people are asking how I can tweet with no access to a computer or fingers. Ever heard of an iPhone? Duh," says another tweet.

"Taking the Sex and the City Tour!!! I'm totally a SSSamantha," the anonymous tweet added.

"Just FYI, I've had it with Samuel L. Jackson too."

Its Twitter profile listed the reptile as "an Egyptian cobra out on the town."

The species' more common home, however, is 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 because of 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.

Breheny called the snake's absence "a serious situation," but said he was heartened by what he described as an apparent confidence that zoo officials would find the cobra.

The media "wouldn't have spoofed the situation the way they did" if they believed otherwise, he said.

CNN's Gene Bloch contributed to this report