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Captured anaconda to undergo pregnancy test
The 220-pound female anaconda found on a private road in Caroni on December 30 remains housed at the Emperor Valley Zoo in Port-of-Spain where tests are being conducted to determine whether or not it is pregnant. The anaconda, which is 17 feet and nine inches long, was discovered near a private road opposite the Caroni Cremation Site. It was captured by security guards at the National Gas Company (NGC) facility.
President of the Zoological Society of T&T Gupte Lutchmedial said the security guards were patrolling the area when they encountered the snake and restrained it by wrapping a rope around its neck. He said photographs later revealed that the snake was “choked almost to the point of death.”
“We fear that it may have caused damage to the throat because it bled a lot from the throat,” he said. The security guards later handed the snake over to the zoo. Lutchmedial said the anaconda was under regular medical care and veterinarians at the zoo have recommended that it be kept there for up to a week to allow for further observation.
He said the staff at the zoo attempted to create a wetland environment for the snake by placing turtles, fishes and grass in its cage. When a news team from the T&T Guardian visited the zoo yesterday morning, the large snake remained coiled up underwater in one corner of the glass cage. Lutchmedial said the cage was adjusted to accommodate the size of the snake.
“If we wanted to keep an animal that size, we would certainly want a much larger exhibit and more naturalistic in look...This is just a temporary area that we quarantined,” he said. He also said the widest region of the anaconda’s body was around 32 inches in circumference. He said considering the width and weight of the snake, many assumed it was pregnant.
He added that the only other reasonable explanation for the snake’s size would be that it was well fed. He said that later that day, a team from the UWI School of Veterinary Medicine would come to the zoo to conduct an ultrasound on the large reptile. “In the past,” he said, “we have kept some of the baby snakes as specimen and the rest we released back into the natural habitat.”
He said, however, that there were currently an adequate number of anacondas on display at the zoo. Lutchmedial said the Nariva Swamp located on the east coast of Trinidad would the ideal place to release the anaconda and its young. Lutchmedial estimated the snake could be around ten years old and if pregnant, it can give birth to around 100 baby snakes. He said it would depend on the number of eggs the snake could store.
When the T&T Guardian contacted the zoo later in the afternoon, officials from the School of Veterinary Medicine said the ultrasound conducted on the snake did not allow for clear results on whether or not she was pregnant. Lecturer of Theriogenology at UWI Michael Morris said: “We scanned her and we are not seeing anything definitive...We do not think she is pregnant but we cannot say for sure.”
Dr Carmen Jerry, teaching assistant in the department of Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine, said while it seemed the snake was not pregnant, it was suggested that another ultrasound be conducted in a month or two in order to confirm. Lutchmedial said within the last three days there had been a significant increase in the number of visitors at the zoo.
When the T&T Guardian news team was present, crowds gathered near the cage to take pictures of the large reptile. The almost 18-foot anaconda is the largest ever to be housed at the zoo.
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