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Venomous king cobra nicknamed "Houdini" missing for 6 days is finally located — only to escape again

Thirsty cobra
Thirsty 12-foot cobra gets a drink from a friendly man 00:42

A venomous king cobra which escaped from its home in a Swedish zoo six days ago has been located inside the building where its terrarium is located but has not yet been recaptured, the park and officials said Friday.

The deadly snake escaped on Saturday via a light fixture in the ceiling of its glass enclosure at the Skansen Aquarium, part of the zoo on Stockholm's Djurgarden island. Park guests who were inside the building where the snakes are located were evacuated. The zoo later assessed that there was no general risk for employees or guests and the rest of the zoo remained open.

The park said it had located the reptile overnight in a confined space near its terrarium and staff were now working to retrieve it.

If the snake had gotten out of the building, it would not have survived the cold climate, the park said.

Swedish Customs said in statement posted on social media that its officers were dispatched to look for the snake, using "X-ray machines and wire cameras commonly used to search for drugs and other prohibited goods."

Den dödliga kungskobran har varit en stor följetong i media sen den rymde från sitt terrarium på Skansen för sex dagar...

Posted by Tullverket on Friday, October 28, 2022

"Thanks to methodical work, Sir Vas could at last be located inside an interior wall near the terrarium," the authority said. "Happy and content, our colleagues were able to conclude the operation, but on Friday Sir Vas managed to escape again."

The snake's official name is Sir Vass (Sir Hiss), but since its escape has been nicknamed "Houdini," after the escape artist who thwarted every attempt to cage him. The reptile had just moved into the terrarium.

The terrarium in question had housed king cobras for about 15 years, Jonas Wahlstrom, director of the Skansen Aquarium, told AFP earlier in the week.  

But the clever new tenant took advantage of the fact that staff had recently replaced the lamp at the top of the enclosure with a low-energy bulb.

Unlike previous lamps it was not hot enough to scare the snake away, and it managed to wedge its head between the bulb and the light fixture and slither its way out.

King cobras can be up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) long and mainly live in India, southeast Asia, in Indonesia and the Philippines.

The zoo is home to about 200 exotic species including fish, corals, crocodiles, turtles, lizards, snakes, naked mole-rats, marmosets, golden lion tamarins, baboons, lemurs, spiders and parrots.

The Skansen-Akvariet zoo is pictured in Stockholm on October 24, 2020.  HENRIK MONTGOMERY

AFP contributed to this report.

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