UCF alumnus confirmed owner of escaped king cobra
SEPT. 4 UPDATE: FWC has confirmed Friday morning the owner of the escaped king cobra is Mike Kennedy, a UCF alumnus.
"We have officers on the ground assisting with the search efforts ... Kennedy and the agency are working together," FWC spokesman Greg Workman said.
Workman added there is an open investigation and Kennedy could face penalties and fines for the escape.
Authorities are searching for an 8-foot-long king cobra that escaped in the Orlando area, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
The escaped king cobra was reported Wednesday to the FWC by its owner, a licensed and bonded individual, officials said. Local news stations have reported Mike Kennedy to be the owner. Kennedy, 56, is a UCF alumnus with a bachelor's in zoology and star of the Discovery Channel's Airplane Repo. He remains one of the few people the state of Florida calls to rescue animals, and owns a 16-year-old leopard named spot and a 14-foot crocodile, which he keeps at his home.
The Central Florida Future reached out to Kennedy, but has not received a response.
The privately owned nonnative, venomous snake was reported to have escaped within the past 24 hours in the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road in Orlando, according to FWC.
The green-and-yellow male snake looks identical to the image provided by FWC above. FWC officials said the above photograph is of a longer female at the same location.
The animal is a snake hunter, FWC said. All other venomous snakes are in their locked cages and are accounted for.
Officials said a permit is required to possess a king cobra and owners are required to report escaped animals immediately.
FWC officers and staff canvassed the area Wednesday evening in search of the snake. Officials said anyone who may come across the snake do not try to handle it and report the sighting to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.