MOSCOW MILLS, Mo. – A two-day event showcasing hundreds of venomous snakes was cut short last weekend after a deadly Egyptian cobra was nowhere to be found.
“Midwest Venom Fest” hosted 200-300 venomous snakes at the Tri-County Sports Center in Moscow Mills, and featured several exhibits, showcases and expert speakers. After Saturday’s event went swimmingly, horror struck on Sunday morning before day two kicked off.
While the event organizer said strict safety precautions were followed and snakes were not allowed outside of their sealed containers, a vendor found one of his containers to be empty Sunday morning. But oddly, it was still sealed.
The container was housing one of the most venomous snakes in the world, the Egyptian cobra, convincing organizers to promptly cancel day two of the event. A bite from an Egyptian cobra packs a venomous punch strong enough to kill a fully grown elephant.
The strict safety precautions, sealed containers and the fact that the vendor claims the container was moved have led those involved to believe something more nefarious may have occurred, instead of the snake simply getting out on its own.
“They’re all in sealed containers. That’s what’s making it very difficult to believe that this was a mistake,” event organizer Micky Meyer with Show-Me Reptiles told Fox 2. “The snake didn’t put the lid back on, and the snake didn’t move its container two feet.”
Both Meyer and police believe it’s more likely the snake was stolen rather than escaped on its own. A professional team of keepers launched a six- to seven-hour search of the area, but came up empty-handed.
“There’s no dust trails,” Meyer said. “There’s really no evidence of a snake being loose in there, because a lot of times when they get loose they poop, too. We haven’t seen any evidence of a loose snake.”
If the snake was stolen, Meyer said the thief may have just nixed everyone else’s hopes of putting on a similar event in the future. “I just don’t think we’re going to be doing any of these venomous shows anymore.”
However, a self-proclaimed “huge advocate” for safety in snake keeping told The Riverfront Times he isn’t completely sold on the theory of theft.
Vincent Price of Vincent Price Venomous Exotics says the events surrounding the Egyptian coba’s disappearance points more toward negligence, and the theory of theft doesn’t make sense to him.
Price told the Times that if someone stole the snake, he would have likely taken the container with it, because “when it comes to venomous snakes, you don’t just pocket them.” Price argues the theory would be more believable if the entire container was missing.
The missing cobra was about 32 inches long, worth about $300 and would likely not survive in overnight temperatures if it got out, the snake’s owner told Fox 2.