Officials Hunt Deadly Egyptian Cobra on Loose at Bronx Zoo

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It's deadly, and it's out there, waiting.

That might sound like the trailer for a campy monster flick, but it's a real concern at New York's Bronx Zoo, where officials and staff are scrambling to find a deadly Egyptian cobra that slithered away from its home last Friday and hasn't been seen since.

The zoo's Reptile House remained closed Monday as a precaution while workers searched for the runaway reptile, a zoo spokeswoman confirmed to

While the roughly 20-inch-long Egyptian cobra -- armed with a massive dose of lethal venom that it injects into its victims -- has been unaccounted for since Friday afternoon, zoo officials say they're confident it hasn't gone far and isn't in a public area. Its enclosure was in an isolation area not open to visitors.

"Our best strategy is patience, allowing her time to come out of hiding," zoo director Jim Breheny said in a statement Monday. "We remain confident that the snake is contained within the Reptile House."

The animals seek out confined spaces, so this one has doubtless hidden in a place it feels safe, Breheny said in an email Sunday.

Once the snake gets hungry or thirsty enough to leave its hiding place, workers will have their best opportunity to recover it, Breheny said. In the meantime, the Reptile House remained closed indefinitely.

The missing cobra 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 

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