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May 7, 2011

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Rare snake found under car hood gets zoo home

A PYTHON discovered under a car's engine hood at a downtown complex has been given a home at the Shanghai Zoo, officials said yesterday.

The 1-meter African ball python - also known as a royal python - is an endangered species and is now being taken care of at the zoo's Amphibian Pavilion.

A zoo official, surnamed Wang, told Shanghai Daily that the two-year-old python had been weak but is now out of danger.

He believed that the reptile, which is protected by international and national animal laws, was a pet illegally raised by a resident near the complex. Wang said the creature probably escaped from where it was being kept and hid under the engine hood to keep itself warm.

"We are planning to exhibit the rare python in the near future, if it recovers quickly," said Wang.

On Wednesday, a resident surnamed Xu living at the complex in Changning District was shocked to see the python, which has distinctive black and yellow markings, raise its head from its hiding place in a car engine.

Although it was not aggressive, Xu called police. Meanwhile, residents trapped the creature in a bag.

Experts from the Shanghai Zoo and wild animal protection authorities soon arrived at the scene and reassured residents that the snake, which is not venomous, would not bite people as it was sluggish in low temperatures.

Experts said as the species is used to very hot temperatures, it would feel cold - even though temperatures hit 16 degrees Celsius on Wednesday morning.

The chilly reptile was given a warm bath at the zoo and received treatment for a wound to its head.

Wang said the python was still a juvenile and it would weigh more than 50 kilograms when fully grown.


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