Tennessee

Snakes and other reptiles found dead at Zoo Knoxville

Officials say an "environmental cause" appears to be behind the recent deaths of 33 reptiles, nearly all of them snakes, at Zoo Knoxville.

The animals found dead last week were all housed in the same building in the zoo's reptile area. Surviving animals were removed and given oxygen.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/2nsc5RF) reports that an exact cause remains unknown. But Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New said Sunday that officials believe the deaths were not due to disease but to "an environmental cause."

Additional autopsy results are pending.

New called the deaths a "devastating and catastrophic loss," adding that several endangered or threatened species breeding programs were lost.

The building where the deaths occurred was home to 52 animals. It has been closed while an investigation continues.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com