Mike Kennedy, a UCF alumnus and owner of the 8-foot-long king cobra that escaped last month in Orlando, pleaded not guilty, waived his arraignment scheduled for Wednesday and requested a jury trial .
The 1983 graduate was charged with a second-degree misdemeanor for "failure to immediately report the escape of a non-indigenous venomous reptile," on Sept. 4, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
His wife, Valerie Kennedy, said Mike has requested a jury trial because he wants a chance to tell his side of the story.
"[Mike] feels very strongly about acting in the best way for the public's interest," she said."He felt it was important to have his side be told."
The privately owned nonnative, green-and-yellow male snake was reported to have escaped in the 4800 block of North Apopka Vineland Road, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Mike has set up box traps around the area to capture the king cobra, but has not been successful. The FWC called off its active search for the snake in September.
"We are continuing to really watch those traps daily and we're doing everything we can to recover the cobra and keep the community safe," Valerie said. She said the public can monitor the traps by checking the Dragon Range Facebook page.
Kennedy has other animal-related charges dated back to 2001, according to court documents. On Oct. 9, 2001, he was charged with possession of a poisonous reptile without license. On Oct. 18, 2004, he was charged for a wildlife violation pertaining to rules and regulations.
Kennedy, 56, graduated UCF with a bachelor's in zoology and rose to fame as the star of Discovery Channel's Airplane Repo, becoming one of the few people Florida calls to rescue animals.
The Central Florida Future reached out to FWC and has not received a response.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.