Deadly Indian Cobra Found Stowed Away on Ship at New Jersey Port

A deadly stowaway was found on a container ship at Port Elizabeth this week, but captured before it could do any harm. 

The Indian cobra snake was discovered at the APM Terminal Monday as crews were unloading a ship that had traveled through South Asian waters en route to the Garden State.

Worried crew members on board the Maersk Sana called federal officials and wildlife authorities, and the Bronx Zoo's Kevin Torregosa, a herpetologist, a zoologist that studies reptiles and amphibians, responded with his partner.

The Indian cobra is among the four snake species that inflict the most snakebites on humans. Its venom acts on the synaptic gaps of the nerves, paralyzing muscles, and in severe cases leads to cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. The Indian cobra is the snake often seen with charmers.

Torregosa said he and his partner boarded the ship and made sure their flash lights illuminated any dark corners so they weren't reaching around blindly. They found the 18-inch, 1-year-old snake not far from where longshoremen unloading the cargo had first seen it.

He said the snake was a bit dehydrated and weak, but he had doses of anti-venom with him just in case.

The female snake was taken to the Bronx Zoo. She has been named Sana, in honor of the ship on which she was found. No one on the ship could say how the snake got on board, so the reptile will be quarantined for 30 days. It's not clear if the snake will stay at the Bronx Zoo, but if it does, it will be the only one of its species at the facility.

The Bronx Zoo is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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