Six-foot anaconda goes missing

STAFF at Colchester Zoo mounted a major search of the tourist park after an anaconda escaped from its display enclosure.

Roddy Ashworth

STAFF at Colchester Zoo mounted a major search of the tourist park after an anaconda escaped from its display enclosure.

The six-foot snake has been missing from its exhibit - which it shared with a larger anaconda - for the last six weeks.

But after an initial security alert it was soon established that the reptile had slithered through a gap in some of the artificial rockwork in its display and was sleeping in a warm void underneath.

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Yesterday zoo director Anthony Tropeano explained that the young anaconda had eaten shortly before it vanished about six weeks ago.

“It is a fairly small snake, with a girth probably the same size as the average human forearm,” Mr Tropeano said.

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“It found a gap in the artificial rockwork and it is now sitting underneath the exhibit, where it is dark and warm.

“There is no other way out of the void it is in, which is basically just an area underneath a false floor.

“At the moment we are quite happy to wait for it to rear its ugly head sometime in the coming weeks, when it gets hungry.

“I have not yet reached the point where I am going to start breaking through the rockwork to try and get it.”

Mr Tropeano admitted there had been “some concern” when its disappearance was initially noticed by a keeper.

Employees quickly mounted a search of the park looking for tell-tale signs such as slither marks and shed skin.

But soon it was soon established that there was no way it could have got outside of the enclosure and when the gap in the rockwork was found the secret of its vanishing act became obvious.

“At first we couldn't work out where it had disappeared to,” Mr Tropeano said.

“To be quite honest, we were more worried about the welfare of the snake than any threat to the public - it is young and only eats small things, like mice.

“I suppose you could say it is missing, but it is not lost.

“Having spoken to staff about the security procedures that have been followed, I am now 100% confident that is where it is and that it will soon be back up using the same gap that it left through.”

Mr Tropeano emphasised that the zoo had an exemplary security and safety record and at no point had there been any danger to any visitors.

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