The Blue Zoo Aquarium in the Mall of Louisiana was still searching Wednesday for Cara, a 12-foot python that went missing from her enclosure Monday evening.
Blue Zoo employees and local snake experts spent Tuesday night searching for the reptile in shifts -- some even donning night-vision goggles -- to no avail.
The Zoo closed down operations again Wednesday to continue the search. They believe she may be in the ceiling of the aquarium after finding evidence of her movement there.
"We all love Cara and their dedication and passion for her return is evident," wrote Blue Zoo in a Facebook post. "We continue our search for Cara and remain voluntarily closed today for her safety."
Cara, an albino Burmese python, was not in her cage Monday evening, Blue Zoo chief marketing officer Ronda Swanson said. After staff were unable to find her that night, they shut down operations and called for help from local agencies, including the St. George Fire Department and local police.
They've also called for help from plumbing, HVAC and security camera companies to find her in smaller spaces she could be hiding in.
Swanson said Cara isn't venomous — in fact, she's a “a very sweet snake."
“This is like if we lost our child,” Swanson said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the search for Cara had ramped up. The Blue Zoo had called in other local snake experts and pest control companies for assistance. Some even had night-vision goggles, ready for an all-night search.
A Blue Zoo spokesperson said the Baton Rouge Zoo had also partnered with them in finding the snake, but a Baton Rouge Zoo spokesperson said she was not aware of any cooperation in the incident.
Burmese pythons like Cara are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the nighttime. So the search teams were most likely to find her when she’s awake and moving, Swanson said.
Burmese pythons are one of the largest snakes in the world and catch prey by coiling around animals and suffocating them. They can grow up to 23 feet, weigh up to 200 pounds and live up to 25 years on average, according to National Geographic.
They typically eat mice and birds but can eat mammals as large as pigs in the wild.
As the search continued into the afternoon, Swanson reported that they were “not leaving any options out,” including using ladders to check the inside of the ceiling.
Aquarium workers stood outside the entrance Tuesday and offered free tickets to families unaware of the business’ temporary closure, including the disappointed children of Michelle Copeland.
Copeland tries to take her children to the aquarium twice a week, and this time had brought a neighbor’s child along to experience the animals for the first time. She knelt down to give the bad news to one of the children, who let out a small, shocked shout.
“We came just to go to the aquarium,” Copeland said.
Marie Bocz had planned on going to the aquarium Tuesday for her daughter’s 16th birthday, but she was happy to buy ice cream and shop instead. A friend said she was too terrified to go into the mall – Bocz said finding the snake would have made the day even better.
“I don’t feel any danger from it,” Bocz said. “I don’t foresee it dropping out of the ceiling, right? It has not interfered at all – actually, it made the day a little more interesting and her birthday a little more memorable.”
The Blue Zoo Aquarium of Baton Rouge opened this year in the mall, which is located off Interstate 10 near its intersection with Bluebonnet Boulevard. While they awaited updates, mall officials held reporters inside a toddler play area near the aquarium.