SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The San Francisco Zoo’s new multimillion dollar South American Tropical Rainforest exhibit opened Saturday, but one of the animals was a no-show – a venomous snake.
The snake known as a Baron’s Racer (Philodryas baroni) is missing, and zookeepers are trying to figure out if the snake slithered off, or was eaten by another animal.
No one seems to know for sure, and it has become quite a mystery.
The Baron’s Racer is small, measuring only an inch wide, and 12 to 14 inches long. As for its venomous bite, zoo officials say there’s nothing to worry about.
“This snake is barely venomous,” said zoo spokesperson Joe Fitting. It’s like a bee sting … a spider bite.”
Fitting believes the snake could have been eaten by a bird.
“You know what the number one sense of a bird is? Eyesight. And you know what they eat? Anything that moves,” said Fitting. “This snake went up and was picked off. We have about 100 species of plants and animals in here. Many of them are snake-eating birds.”
Many visitors said they weren’t worried.
“I’m sure he’s gonna be fine… it might be hiding,” said Laura Schonberg and her husband David. David pointing out a parrot.
“That parrot looks awfully suspicious. Looks awfully full,” they laughed.
Zookeepers haven’t entirely ruled out an escape. The Baron’s Racer snake is so small it would probably fit through a buttonhole.
They said there’s also a remote possibility the snake may have just crawled into some of the material in his own habitat, and still be inside. They’ve sifted through it, but so far, no sign of the critter.