Meet the King at London Zoo!
Friday 28 April 2006
London Zoo’s newest addition to the reptile collection, an awe-inspiring king cobra, is ssssettling in nicely to her new home.
At only four years old and already measuring in at 9ft long she will grow to around 16ft (5m) over the next three to four years and be capable of rearing up to to look a fully grown man in the eye.
Her arrival in London from an American zoo makes her only the second king cobra on public display in the UK.
King cobras are the longest venomous snake in the world and have enough venom in their bite to kill an elephant – the equivalent of 12 adult men.
When threatened, a king cobra will usually retreat quickly into the dense bushes of its forest home but if cornered will spread a hood and rear up to one third of its length to appear intimidating. Only in extreme circumstances will a king cobra bite to defend itself and waste its precious venom.
Richard Gibson, Curator of Herpetology for the Zoological Society of London, said: “It’s been more than 30 years since we last had a king cobra at London Zoo so we are really pleased to have her here, she’s a fantastic addition to our unique collection of reptiles at London Zoo.
“While king cobras are not yet endangered they are facing a major threat through the loss of their habitat and we hope to forge links with field biologists researching this unique snake in the wild.”
Visitors can now see our king (queen?) cobra in the reptile house at London Zoo.
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Notes to editors
King cobras are carnivorous and eat mainly other snakes – the first word in their Latin name Ophiophagus hannah means “snake eater”.
King cobras are from the south and southeast Asian rainforests from India to Indonesia and the Philippines, where they live in clearings or on the edge of the forest. They vary enormously across this range and will likely soon be recognized as several distinct species – some of which are highly threatened.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
Emma Kenly - 020 7449 6280 or 07941 081 967