Venomous Snake Show Shuts Down After Cobra Goes Missing

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Desmond Lobo

It was a slithery surprise for attendees at the ‘Venom-Fest’ in Missouri when an Egyptian cobra escaped from its cage.

During the two-day event, everything was going as planned until event organizers realized they had a missing cobra on the loose.

According to organizers, strict safety precautions were in place for the 200-300 snakes at the “Midwest Venom Fest” show. In addition, snakes were not allowed out of their sealed containers under any circumstances.

Before the public was allowed in for Day 2, a vendor found someone had moved one of his containers. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was empty, but it was still sealed.

“They’re all in sealed containers. That’s what’s making it very difficult to believe that this was a mistake,” said Micky Meyer with Show-Me Reptiles. “The snake didn’t put the lid back on and the snake didn’t move its container two feet.”

The St. Louis Herpetological Society, which aims to educate the public about reptiles, has had education booths at those shows but not at previous “Venom fest” events. They are no longer affiliated with ‘Venom Fest’ in any way.

“They’re beautiful animals … We just didn’t want to be associated with it,” said Bill Keith with the St. Louis Herpetological Society. “We thought it was a bad idea because so much can go wrong, we support these guys wanting to keep these animals, that’s fine.”

“It’s more geared toward education and getting other venomous keepers from around the country to come and learn and network with each other,” said Meyer.

Meyer and the authorities believe the cobra was more likely taken than escaped. He says a team of experienced keepers conducted a 6- to 7-hour search. They also plan to do another sweep to ensure they’re as cautious as possible.

Missing cobra returns back to its home after missing for a week

“There’s no dust trails,” said Meyer. “There’s really no evidences of a snake being loose in there because a lot of times when they get loose they poop, too. We haven’t seen any evidence of a loose snake. … I just don’t think we’re going to be doing any of these venomous shows anymore.”

Missouri also requires venomous reptile owners to register with local police. In addition, some cities, such as Festus and St. Louis, prohibit ownership.

Across the world in Sweden, a venomous seven-foo cobra that escaped from its home in a zoo has returned back home. Before, it had been missing for a week.

“Houdini, as we named him, has crawled back into his terrarium,” CEO Jonas Wahlstrom of the Skansen Aquarium said.

The snake, whose official name is Sir Vass (Sir Hiss), escaped on Oct. 22 by using a light fixture in the ceiling of its glass enclosure at the aquarium.

After an intensive search with X-ray machines, officials found the snake in a confined space. He was near the terrarium in the insulation between two walls.

Later, they drilled holes into the walls where the creature was hiding, but he disappeared from the view of the X-ray cameras. It turned out the snake had crawled back to its terrarium on its own.”It was too stressful for Houdini with all the holes in the walls, so he wanted to go home again,” Wahlstrom told SVT.