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ON Press: Toronto timeline: King Cobra

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Posted by: W von Papineäu at Sat Dec 22 18:09:19 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineäu ]  

NATIONAL POST (Toronto, Ontario) 14 December 07 Toronto timeline: King Cobra (Rob Roberts)
This morning, Joshua Feltham answered the question, Dude, is that a giant deadly snake in your zoo or are you just happy to see me? The general manager of Reptilia, a shrine to all things scaly in Vaughan, unveiled the zoo’s newest exhibit to the media: a 13-foot-long King Cobra. Measuring the snake was, shall we say, delicate. Reporter Dave McGinn went to watch:
10:01 Arrive at Reptilia. Mr. Feltham greets me at the entrance and invites me to take a stroll down a hallway leading past the zoo’s many display areas. One sign next to a python cage reads, “Get in on the action and photograph a reticulated python eating a goat up close and personal. $180.” That sounds fun.
10:08 Next to a crocodile tank there is this sign: “A ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the zoo including feeding the baby gators and visit inside the croc tank—only for the brave. $500.” Crikey!
10:11 At a bend in the hallway we come to the “Discovery Zone,” an open area where some mulch has been laid on the ground for the snake. Ummm, Mr., ummm, I think you forgot to put a barrier here. What if the snake makes a run for it, or a slither for it, whatever snakes do? Mr. Feltham assures us that everyone is safe. Phew!
10:20 Mr. Feltham pulls out his snake and shows it to the crowd. I am scared. The snake is laid down on the mulch and Mr. Feltham tries to get it to ‘hood’—which it only does when threatened or angry. The gentle prodding at best makes the snake mildly irritated, and thus there is no hooding action. Bad for photographers; good for people in the audience who are scared of snakes.
10:24 Just how deadly is this big deadly snake? “Basically,” says Mr. Feltham, “the strength of the venom they have and the amount of venom is enough to take down an elephant.” Gnarly! “Now,” Mr. Feltham further explains, “they have no reason to take down an elephant, but it puts it in perspective.”
10:27 Time to measure the snake. How do you measure a snake? As Mr. Feltham explains, you line it up against a wall, kind of like the way you measure your kids. You know, when you wrap a hook around your kids’ neck and gently ease them against the wall carefully so they don’t bite you? Kind of like that. Mr. Feltham holds the snake by the tail as fellow handler Lee Walker uses a hook to ease the snake’s head against the wall. “You have to be careful,” says Mr. Feltham, “because if it goes wrong, it goes terribly wrong.”
10:30 The measuring tape is out and the snake comes in at 13 feet one inch. Why did the zoo acquire the snake in the first place? “We want to expose as many people to these animals as we can,” says Mr. Feltham. Having big, deadly snakes is “what draws people in.”
10:36 The snake is put back in its box. “I think he wants to go back to where he’s warm,” says Mr. Feltham. After screwing the lid on tight, Mr. Feltham picks up the box and walks us out to the front door. At one point, he puts the box down on a table in the cafeteria to show us a crocodile. Then we walk to the front of the building. “Oh,” says Mr. Feltham, “I have to go get the snake.” Yeah, you don’t want to leave that thing lying around, especially when your big snake is expected to be a big draw in the next few weeks. “We definitely expect people to be coming over the holidays to see him,” says Mr. Feltham. What’s Christmas without a giant deadly snake?
Toronto timeline: King Cobra


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