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Posted: September 02, 2015

Still no sign of king cobra that escaped from Orlando man's home


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Florida Fish and Wildlife officials continued their search Thursday for a deadly king cobra that escaped from an Orlando man's home.

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The non-native, venomous snake escaped Wednesday night from a home on the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road, which is used as a rescue facility for exotic animals.

FWC, along with a half-dozen others who are privately licensed to capture venomous snakes, are focused on searching a 10-acre property surrounding snake owner Mike Kennedy's home.

Expert Bob Cross is helping search for the snake, but he said locating it in 60 acres of land could be next to impossible.

"It's rough," Cross said. "Got to try to find your way through there, make sure you don't step on or near this snake or another snake. Just walk slow and be careful."

The snake is 8-feet long, which is small by king cobra standards, officials said. They can grow up to 18-feet in length.

"This snake is huge, can inject a lot of venom, so it's dangerous," Cross said.

WFTV learned Kennedy has at least one other king cobra and he's also licensed to own a Burmese python, a viper or rattlesnake and venomous lizards, along with several other wild animals.

In the meantime, outdoor activities were canceled at Clarcona Elementary School as wildlife officials continue their search.

Principal Robert Strenth asked parents to accompany any students walking or biking to school, telling them all students would spend the day inside.

"We are moving all outside activities, including PE and recess, inside and we will be relocating our portable classrooms inside the building," he said.

There are several schools close to the Dragon Ranch. Clarcona is the closest and sits about a mile away. Pinewood and Lake Gem elementary schools are about three miles away.

"I was a little bit concerned, because he was in a portable. (But) I'm OK with it as long as he's not outside," said parent Kim Wininger.

Property records show the home belongs to Kennedy, who operates a nonprofit for rescued exotic animals called Dragon Ranch, according to its website.

FWC officers said Kennedy followed proper reporting procedures when it was discovered the reptile was missing.

"I’m a little concerned. I have a small cat at home, and snakes like cats," said neighbor Bryan Shattuck.

FWC officials are canvassing the area and ask that anyone who comes across the snake to call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. They urge residents not to approach the animal.

Thursday night, WFTV reported that trappers from Georgia had arrived at the scene of the snake's escape.

A single bite from a king cobra has enough toxins to kill 20 people, experts say.

"My wife is deathly afraid of small critters, ants, roaches. Yeah, she's going to be freaked out," said Shattuck.

King cobras are shy and tend to avoid humans, according to wildlife experts.

It's not the first time Kennedy has had a king cobra escape. The last time it happened, the snake was shot by a homeowner who found it in his garage.

Authorities said the Kennedy could face a fine in the latest escape.


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