Managers at the Moody Gardens Rainforest acknowledged Wednesday that a venomous snake escaped from its tank near the facility’s public entrance when its whereabouts could not be accounted for earlier this month.
But managers never evacuated the rainforest or closed that portion of the facility to the public because they said they had no reason to think the snake had slithered outside its enclosure — even though they could not find the animal for nearly two days.
The 10-inch African bush viper was later found lying on top of the tank. It settled on a metal screen in the ceiling beside a grated light fixture above its enclosure, managers said Wednesday. They say they still have no idea how the snake got out of the enclosure and up into the ceiling.
The revelation contradicted Moody Gardens’ previous explanations for the incident. Spokeswoman Jerri Hamachek told the Houston Chronicle three weeks ago that the snake never ventured outside its “exhibit” and never posed any danger to the public, but said nothing about the snake going up into the ceiling.
“Snakes camouflage, and that’s what he was doing,” Hamachek told the newspaper on July 9.
The Chronicle confronted managers and Hamachek after receiving a tip that the initial explanation was incorrect.
Hamachek said Wednesday that she was unaware at the time of the interview that the snake was found outside its enclosure in an area with no foliage where it could not camouflage itself. She said she just wanted to assure the public the snake had been recaptured.