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Cobra Found As Stowaway On Cargo Ship In NJ Recovering At Bronx Zoo

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new resident that you most assuredly would not want as a neighbor has moved to New York City.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, this new New Yorker is cold-blooded, beady-eyed, and deadly – not to mention sneaky. The new resident is also in the country without permission – in fact, to deal with this resident, U.S. Customs and Immigration had to call the Bronx Zoo for help.

The new resident in question is of the reptilian class. The juvenile Indian cobra was a stowaway on a container ship destined for the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal in New Jersey, according to officials at The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo.

"We knew it was in a cargo hold on one of these ships, which I'd never been on before," said herpetologist Kevin Torregrosa. "It was a very large ship."

Torregrosa is the snake guy, as it were, at the Bronx Zoo. He had to seek and find the cobra that somehow ended up deep inside the marine vessel MV Maersk Sana.

The crew discovered the cobra in the hold on Dec. 10. he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contacted the The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo on Monday to help remove the cobra from the ship when it reached its New Jersey destination.

The equipment Torregrosa and his team used included a snake hook and a supply of life-saving drugs.

"Planning for the worst we brought anti-venom with us so that if there was a bite, we could take that to a hospital with us," he said.

Torregrosa climbed eight stories down into the cargo hold to search for the slippery stowaway. He started in a bilge well, where a crewmember had spotted the snake.

"Kind of just did a sweep around, and found the snake sitting on a platform a little elevated off the ground," he said.

The approximately 18-inch long, highly venomous snake was found in poor condition -- dehydrated, cold and exposed to oil residue, zoo officials said.

It took roughly 30 minutes to locate the cobra.

It was placed in a snake bag, hoisted back to the deck and brought to the zoo.

It was all in a day's work for a man who handles all kinds of dangerous critters.

The Bronx Zoo experts used snake tongs to grab the cobra and put it in a special bite-proof bag.

The underweight snake was recovering late Friday at the zoo hospital.

Early Friday evening, the snake was being nourished with vitamins delivered in a fluid. When the snake is feeling a little better, zoo staff will try to tempt it with a mouse.

"It's looking good. It's getting much better. So right now, it's just day at a time," Torregrosa said.

The cobra was named Sana after the ship where it was found.

"We have not yet determined if the cobra will remain at the zoo permanently" said Jim Breheny, Bronx Zoo Director and WCS Executive Vice President of the Zoos and Aquarium. "At present, the snake is in quarantine and under treatment at our wildlife health center. Our main concern is to restore it to good health. We were happy to assist the ship's crew and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with this rescue."

If the snake remains, it will be the only one of its species at the zoo.

Meanwhile, the mystery remained with regard to how the Indian cobra ended up on the ship, which came to New Jersey from Singapore.

Torregrosa thinks the cobra is about one year old. When the snake is healthier, experts will examine it more closely to see if it is male or female.

In 2011, a cobra went missing from the Bronx Zoo and soon became an Internet celebrity after posting its exploits on Twitter.

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