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The Year of the Snake at the Oregon Zoo

Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

By Erika N. Chen-Walsh

The Oregon Zoo will be featuring its 15′ Burmese python, Bubba in the spotlight this month beginning on February 10, 2013 in celebration of the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. According to Chinese astrology, this one will be the Year of the Snake, and the zoo will be offering free admission on February 10th as part of its celebration.

Visitors to the zoo Feb. 10 will have the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with a live snake, and learn more about conserving endangered Asian wildlife.

“Celebrating the Lunar New Year helps us bring attention to Asian animals that are imperiled, including snakes,” said Kim Smith, zoo director. “We want visitors to make a connection with the animals here — even the cold-blooded ones — so that they leave the zoo wanting to make the world a better place for wildlife.”

The snake is the sixth animal featured in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac and traditionally symbolizes intelligence and grace.

Burmese pythons, the vilified subject of Florida’s grisly Python Challenge, have generally docile dispositions and are native to tropical  jungles and grassy marshes of Southeast Asia.  Habitat depletion and hunting for their skins and flesh have landed these graceful giants on the threatened species list.