Deadly cobra found in Victoria Park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 June, 2004, 12:00am

The snake is believed to have escaped from a nearby restaurant

A deadly Chinese cobra found in Victoria Park may have been a wild snake which slithered into the concrete jungle but was more likely an escapee from a nearby restaurant, experts say.

The venomous snake, which can grow to nearly two metres long, is highly prized as a delicacy by some Hong Kong diners. It is offered on the menu in several Causeway Bay restaurants close to where the snake was spotted.

Police searched for the black cobra after a 47-year-old rubbish collector spotted it under a bush, near gate eight, in the popular inner-city parkland at 1.30pm on Monday.

Police cordoned off the area and a number of people - including police, park staff and a snake expert - searched for several hours without success.

But the snake expert, who stayed on to continue the hunt, later reported to police that the snake had been found, dead. It is not known how the snake died.

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden senior manager Gary Ades said the Chinese cobra was a common species in Hong Kong.

He said it was not unusual for the snake to move into urban areas from thickly vegetated hillsides, to look for food.

'But we would normally not come across a case like this, where it is found in the centre of the concrete jungle.

'Most of the snakes that appear in the city are either escapees from nearby snake restaurants or abandoned pets.

'It is possible it came in from the wild but it is more likely to be one of the other options.

'The park is not likely to have its own snake population because it is too manicured and well-tended.

'But I am sure they get plenty of rodents in the park, and the snake would have come in looking for mice and rats to feed on.'

Chinese cobras are highly venomous and a person bitten by one would be facing a potentially life-threatening situation, he said.

'But most of the hospitals in Hong Kong are equipped and ready to deal with this sort of emergency, and they can respond with treatment fairly quickly, including administering an antivenin.'

The more lethal king cobra is also found in Hong Kong. It can grow up to two metres long and both it and the Chinese cobra can be as thick as an adult's arm.

The Chinese cobra can be recognised by a circular, or spectacle-shaped, mark on the back of the hood, which splays out from the neck when the reptile feels threatened.