Mill Mountain Zoo Celebrates Opening of Python House

Mill Mountain Zoo is excited to announce the opening of the newly established and upgraded Python House.  Burmese Pythons are one of the six largest snakes in the world, growing to lengths up to 16 feet and weighing up to 200 pounds with a lifespan of up to 28 years.  

Our two Burmese Python’s, Hoover, and Damien, both started out as pets and were later relinquished to the Zoo by their owners. Sadly, owner-relinquishment is a common result of animals that are victims of the exotic pet trade.  Hoover is estimated to be 36 years old, while Damien is much younger at around 18years old.  Both pythons measure more than 12 feet long, and together weigh more than 192 pounds!  

To get the space ready for its new inhabitants, a proper drainage system was installed, along with heated flooring, a new roof, a new heating unit, and a fan for airflow.  Special Projects Coordinator, Thomas West, and Animal Department Manager, Kenlee Ngo, designed and handcrafted a Cyprus tree root sculpture to simulate the python’s natural environment.  In addition, local artist Cy Lane created the wall mural to mimic the natural foliage of a rainforest.  

“Creating a piece of art about Nature can transport you into another world.  One of the best places to be inspired is Mill Mountain Zoo, with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly, nature-loving staff, and endangered creatures”, said Cy Lane.

“A healthy living environment and superior level of care is paramount for all animals in our guardianship at the Zoo”, said Niki Voudren, Mill Mountain Zoo’s Executive Director.  “This project represents the high-quality standards of animal welfare and ethics we pride ourselves on and ensures the integrity of our conservation efforts. It is inspirational to see the myriad of talent and passion the staff and volunteers have for the animals – they put their hearts into everything they do at the Zoo.  They always go above and beyond.  Cy Lane has graced the Zoo with her art throughout the Zoo, and we are grateful to her for beautifying this historic destination with a meaningful purpose.”

Most people in the United States are familiar with Burmese Pythons as a seriously invasive species inhabiting the Florida Everglades due in large part to pet owners unable to care for these large reptiles.  However, the species is facing numerous threats in their native geographical region of Southeast Asia.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently identifies the Burmese Python as a vulnerable species due to human threats, such as habitat loss and destruction for agriculture and human settlements. They also face threats from hunting for human consumption and the market of exotic leather.  

We invite you to pay a visit to Mill Mountain Zoo to catch a glimpse of Hoover and Damien in their new, beautiful, luxurious habitat!  You’ll most likely find them keeping warm and soaking up the sun’s warmth.

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