The missing snake that's been loose inside the Mall of Louisiana this week has been found, officials said Thursday morning.
Cara the 12-foot Burmese python was found inside a high crawl space and pulled out safely, according to a video posted by the Blue Zoo aquarium.
Watch the video of her rescue below (Can't see it? Watch here.):
"We couldn't be more excited to share with you that the search is over!" the Blue Zoo posted on Facebook at 5:37 a.m. Thursday. "[Cara] has been found, safe and healthy!"
Cara was found in the ceiling of the zoo just before 4:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Ronda Swanson, a Blue Zoo spokeswoman.
"She did the snake thing, where she coiled up and sat down and hunkered down," her caretaker, Victoria, told WBRZ.
She was taken to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine to be checked out, Swanson said.
In the video, two people are seen coming out of a hole cut into the drywall at the top of a tall interior wall. One of the people has the yellow snake in their hands and over their shoulder while they climb down a ladder.
A third person stays in the wall and continues to slowly hand down the long python, while someone on the ground can be heard asking for help preparing a blanket for Cara the python.
The headliner of Blue Zoo Aquarium’s thrice-weekly snake show catapulted to stardom with her disappearing act.
At one point, the snake is wrapped loosely around the person on the ladder and the tail of the long python is dangling past their feet. Someone on the ground then holds onto the tail and slowly moves it to the ground.
"Good girl," a woman can be heard saying affectionately as Cara safely reaches the ground. "Hey, you."
Missing since Monday
Cara has been missing since 2 a.m. Monday from the aquarium inside Louisiana's largest mall, according to the St. George Fire Department.
Her handlers searched all day with no luck. When night fell Tuesday, and Cara’s handlers thought the nocturnal snake would be more active, more help was called in. Still no luck.
Then Tuesday morning, WBRZ said, a worker from the Blue Zoo called and requested help from animal control and firefighters. Listen to the phone call.
The Blue Zoo Aquarium inside the Mall of Louisiana has ramped up the search for Cara, the missing python, as they approach nighttime.
Air conditioning companies and security camera companies were also called in, the Blue Zoo said on Facebook. A specialist from the Blue Zoo, which has two other locations in the U.S., was flown in to help with the search, WBRZ said. They had located trails and scales that helped then narrow down the search and then Thursday morning, they found Cara.
Some details about Cara’s great escape differed from the aquarium’s initial accounts.
Blue Zoo first said the snake escaped Monday night, but the St. George Fire Department later said she slipped away Monday morning.
The aquarium initially blamed an electrical issue for its closure Tuesday, but an SGFD spokesman revealed the real reason — an escaped snake — about 30 hours after the python snuck out.
The aquarium also said the Baton Rouge Zoo was involved, but a zoo official said that was news to them.
Snakes are known for being “escape artists,” said Chris Austin, the director of the LSU Museum of Natural Science and a local herpetologist. Their strength, he said, typically allows them to open enclosures with ease.
Pythons can wield a lot of power. The Burmese variety is one of the world’s largest snakes and can grow up to 20 feet long.
They’re native to southeast Asia, Austin said, and considered an invasive species in Florida. Louisiana’s cold winters prevent them from running amok in Baton Rouge.
In addition to their impressive escape-artistry, snakes are good at hiding, Austin said. They can fit into openings barely larger than their circumference and tend to slither into unexpected spots to coil up. They can hide for months at a time and go up to a year between meals.
What they aren’t good at, though, is moving fast. A breakneck pace for a python? About 1 mph. And they don’t tend to reach that speed unless they’re hunting down prey.
What is the Blue Zoo?
The Blue Zoo opened earlier this year in a 16,000-square-foot space that had been occupied by Hollister Co., Gameware and Nawlins Sports. It's on the first floor near Dillard's.
The first Blue Zoo opened in Washington in August 2019, while the Oklahoma City location followed in July.
Initial plans called for the Baton Rouge location to have 38 exhibits, with animals such as sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, seahorses and toucans. Guests at Blue Zoo can touch a stingray and pick up a starfish, along with interacting with birds.
People need to buy a day pass and annual family passes to visit the Blue Zoo.
Staff writer Timothy Boone contributed to this story.