According to the Columbus Dispatch:
...Fluffy died Tuesday night, apparently of a tumor.Sad news, but this made me even more sad ...
The 18-year-old reticulated python was 24 feet long and held the Guinness World Records title of longest snake in captivity. She weighed 300 pounds, according to a news release from the zoo.
The snake will be cremated, zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters said.Cremated?! Why not preserved? Let Fluffy break another record and become the world's longest snake skeleton! Surely there are people in the area that could prepare the specimen, it it really would make for an awesome display at the zoo. Beyond the immediate future, Fluffy's passing no doubt brings up another big question...
Will Fluffy Be Replaced?I certainly hope so, and I'll go one step further and encourage the Columbus Zoo to not only replace Fluffy but to do so by doing one (or both!) of the following:
- Get a "normal" Reticulated Python. If I'm not mistaken, Fluffy was a "tiger" morph - a pattern mutant commonly bred in captivity that looks like this instead of this or this.
- Exhibit this species' natural variation by acquiring (and breeding) some of the diminutive individuals that can be found in the pet trade, or at least individuals from (and representative of) a known locality. These island "dwarfs" (see here, here and here[PDF]) seem to only reach about 6'-10' long (tiny!) instead of 20'+ like individuals from other populations.
...The education animal should be representative of a normal form of the species (Gibson, 1994a; San Francisco Zoological Society, 1983). One of the goals of reptile education is to teach not only about the reptile itself but how that species lives in its environment, including how it is camouflaged from predator and prey. In the case of indigenous species, normal forms will help the audience identify the species when they see it in their yards, parks or in wild areas. Captive-bred color and pattern morphs are best saved for use in teaching the basics of genetics and heredity or in lectures addressing reptiles as pets rather than where the focus is on creating an awareness of wildlife and conservation.
[Hat tip to Cindy Steinle via Kingsnake.com]