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April 24, 2001

Live Cobra found in Cargo Hold of Philippine Airlines Plane

Honolulu - A live snake, tentatively identified as a monocle cobra (Naja sp.), was found in the rear cargo hold of Philippine Airlines Flight 100 from Manila at about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning (4/21). Cargo personnel found the two-and-a-half-foot-long, brown-colored snake coiled up in a corner of the cargo hold and originally thought it was dead. But, when an inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) went to retrieve the snake, he found it to be alive. Further inspections of the Airbus A340 cargo hold and empty cargo containers were conducted and no other snakes were found. It is unknown how the snake got aboard the plane. The snake is the first live cobra that has been captured in Hawaii.

The snake, which is venomous, is currently being safeguarded at the department's Plant Quarantine Branch. A photo opportunity of the snake is scheduled between 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Plant Quarantine Station, located at 701 Ilalo Street. Due to road construction in the area, take Ohe Street makai toward Kakaako Park and enter from the back side of the Plant Quarantine Station (Cooke Street has been blocked at Ilalo Street heading makai).

Cobra is the common name for members of the family of poisonous snakes, Elapidae, known for their intimidating looks and deadly bite. They are found throughout the Philippines, southern Asia, and Africa. HDOA specialists, in collaboration with specialist from the Honolulu Zoo and the Department of Land & Natural Resources are conducting further research to positively identify the specific type of cobra found on the plane. Cobras are recognized by their hoods that they flare when angry or disturbed. The captured snake was tentatively identified by the monocle-shaped marking on the back of the hood.

It is illegal to knowingly transport a snake to Hawaii. Stiff penalties include fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).


Picture of cobra head