CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
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With great sadness, The Louisville Zoo had to say goodbye to one of its popular residents today — Monty, a 38-year-old male Burmese python that arrived at the Zoo in 1981.
The giant snake had been not eating well, was losing weight and was diagnosed with lymphoma, an immune system cancer. A quality of life watch was initiated and the Zoo’s veterinary and HerpAquarium teams decided that the most humane course of action was to euthanize the python.
“These decisions are never made lightly,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi. “Our goal is to provide high quality care and that extends to making tough end-of-life decisions when welfare is compromised and the prognosis is poor.”
In 2006, Monty was awarded an Honorable Mention award in the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association Kentucky Animal Hall of Fame which honors and recognizes exceptional animals. “Monty was a great ambassador for his species. For years we would take him to radio and TV stations with his impressive 13.5 foot length; he became a favorite of Zoo guests,” offered Bill McMahan, Curator of Ectotherms and Supervisor of the HerpAquarium that Monty called home. “He never bit anyone in his 35 years here at the Zoo, which is rare!”
About Burmese Pythons
The Burmese python is one of the six largest snakes in the world. Lengths of more than 15 feet are common, and they may exceed 18-19 feet. Pythons are constrictors, so they don’t have fangs. They do have back curving teeth that grab prey and don’t let it escape. They are found in southern China, Burma, Indochina, Thailand and the Malay Archipelago. In the last two decades, Burmese pythons have become established in the Florida Everglades where they are considered an invasive species. Burmese pythons live in rainforests near streams although they survive in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, swamps, marshes and rocky foothills. At the Zoo, pythons are fed poultry, large rodents and rabbits. Their life span in the wild may be between 25-30 years. Native populations are considered to be vulnerable. They are widespread throughout their native range but they are diminishing in numbers in the remnant wild.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).