Finding Escaped Lethal Cobra at New York's Bronx Zoo Could Take Weeks, Officials Say

It could take weeks before a deadly runaway cobra is captured at New York's Bronx Zoo, officials tell

The months-old female Egyptian cobra -- whose venom is deadly -- continues to evade zoo workers after she escaped from an enclosure Friday inside the zoo's Reptile House.

For now, the 20-inch-long, pencil-thin cobra will remain in hiding until she "feels completely secure" enough to come out, according to zoo officials.

"Right now, it’s the snake's game," zoo director Jim Breheny said in a statement Monday. "At this point, it’s just like fishing; you put the hook in the water and wait."

"Our best strategy is patience, allowing her time to come out of hiding," he said. "We remain confident that the snake is contained within the Reptile House.

"As her comfort level rises, she will begin to move around the building to seek food and water," he added.

Breheny also said that sweeping searches will continue on a daily basis and that the zoo has put in a system for tracking the snake's movement, though he did not elaborate.

The zoo's Reptile House, meanwhile, remains closed as a precaution while workers search for the reptile. Zoo officials say they remain confident that the snake is contained within the Reptile House and is not in an area that's accessible to the public.

The missing cobra, who weighs less than three ounces, is an adolescent of its hooded species, which is believed to be the type of snake that was called an asp in antiquity.

Cobra bites can be deadly if not treated properly. reports that poison from an Egyptian cobra's bite can kill an elephant in three hours and a human in only 15 minutes.

But the snakes aren't likely to attack people unless the reptiles feel threatened, according to a fact sheet on the San Diego Zoo's website.

Opened in 1899, the Bronx Zoo is run by the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society.

The Associated Press contributed to this report