Second King Cobra shipped out for research
A second King Cobra that was recently found near the Cebu City Zoo will be turned over to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for research into the production of anti-venom.
“Our target is next week since the officer in charge is still out of the country,” said Cebu City veterinian Dr. Alice Utlang.
Zoo manager Giovanni Romarate first wanted to keep the snake but was unable to do so due to inadequate facilities.
Utlang said they would have wanted a serpentarium but it wasn’t part of this year’s budget so they plan to include it next year. Trained personnel is another concern.
“They can’t handle cobras that well. Better safe than sorry,” she said.
The first King Cobra captured by zoo employees bit one of them last August. The male snake was transported to RITM late September.The recently captured King Cobra was identified as a female.
Indian snake expert Soham Mukherjee, who visited Cebu earlier, said the only accurate way of sex determination in snakes is “by using sexing probes, which I doubt they have.”
Sexing probes involving searching for a male’s reproductive organ. Otherwise a physical examination could be used.
Mukherjee, in an online correspondence, cautioned that professional expertise is critical.
“Some species like pythons and boas have spurs under tail, males have larger than females of same size. But only if you know what is big and what is small for that particular size. In most cases it is a good guess,” Mukherjee said.
Utlang furnished RITM and Mukherjee a copy of zoo employee and recent cobra bite survivor Ronron Aventurado’s anti-venom treatment.
“Even the treatment regimen of Ronron (Aventurado) will be used for study because they are wondering why the Philippine cobra anti-venom was effective in the king cobra bite,” she said.
In other countries, anti-venom treatment is species specific, Utlang said. Correspondent Jessa Agua
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