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Thu May 07 05:35:37 SAST 2015

Pretoria zoo's two-metre black mamba escapes

Sapa | 19 March, 2013 08:13
Black Mamba Snake (Dendroaspis polylepis)
Image by: StuPorts / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Pretoria zoo's two-metre black mamba has escaped from its enclosure, and staff have been unable to find it.

Beeld reported that Craig Allenby, the zoo's marketing manager, said staff realised last week that the snake's terrarium was empty.

"The area was immediately cordoned off, and stayed cordoned off for two days while we hunted, but in vain. We suspect the snake could have slithered into the roof, but we can't get in there because of the angle and the narrow gap."

There was no need for hysteria, he said, as the black mamba was in all likelihood preparing for hibernation, and was in a constricted area, with little chance of it reaching any member of the public.

"It would have to get through three doors before coming into contact with the public."

He said they were still trying to determine how the mamba had escaped.

"Should something go wrong, the Eugene Marais hospital is just a call away, and ambulances will be sent out immediately."

Prof Graham Alexander, a snake expert from Wits, said black mambas were dangerous, although not aggressive.

"If it feels threatened, there's a good chance that it will attack. Their poison is neurotoxic, and a bite can lead to a heart attack within 30 minutes."