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Prized anaconda returns to Academy

September 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
At 12-feet-long and 82 pounds, the anaconda at the Academy of Sciences gives visitors a lot to look at. She is one of the Academy's prize specimens.

"Anacondas are constrictors, so what they like to do is hold on to things," laboratory manager Laurie Kormos said. "And so they'll constrict and give you a hug."

For the past several years, the anaconda lived at the Academy's temporary building downtown. ABC7 was there when a team of biologists moved her.

The crew had to hang on tight so the snake could get a medical exam. But at the time, they had to be careful that she did not hang on too tight to them.

The medical exam was quick and the team was ready to move her into her traveling container. But the snake had wrapped herself around one of the biologist's arms.

Once she was free, the trip across town was quick. And getting the snake out of the container was much easier than getting her into it.

The anaconda's first instinct was to check out her new home by tasting the air with her tongue.

The new exhibit took months to create. It was put together at Academy Studios in Novato. The base was made of cast fiberglass, with a lot of attention paid to the safety of the snake, and her keepers.

"There are foot holds and things here so if somebody starts to slip, they'll have places they can grab on to and places that their feet can lodge into so they get out quickly, because the snake is very fast, program manager Debra Darlington said.

All of the roots in the exhibit are actually made of nylon rope colored with silicon.

"It's built to be something that's completely non-toxic for the animals in the exhibit," Darlington said.

Once the snake was in her exhibit, she explored it thoroughly. Her tank mate is an iguana, who was a little nervous at first, but eventually ambled over to get a closer look.

"There's always a concern whenever you have two predators in an exhibit that you could have issues," biologist Brian Freiermuth said.

In the wild the iguana and anaconda would live in the same habitat. The biologists believed the snake would consider the iguana too small to be worth eating.

"We'll be monitoring over the next few days and weeks to see how they get along," Chris Andrews said.

So far, the two are not friends, but nobody has been eaten.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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