On the morning of August 27th, zookeepers found that "Fluffy" had died during the night, and preliminary findings of a necropsy by Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine revealed the presence of a mass on her ovary. Fluffy was eighteen years old, 24-feet-long and 300-pounds and held the title of longest snake by Guinness World Records since the 30th September 2009. She was described as "gigantic and gentle" by staff at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Fluffy has attracted large crowds at the zoo since she made her public debut in April 2007, when she was originally brought to the zoo on loan. She became such a favorite with staff and visitors alike that the zoo decided to keep her permanently. "When Zoo visitors saw Fluffy they experienced many emotions such as awe, curiosity and even fear. Everyone was moved by her presence and she created the connection for them to learn more, and care more, about misunderstood animals such as snakes." said Zoo President and CEO Dale Schmidt.
Reticulated pythons are non-venomous constrictors found in tropical forests in Southeast Asia. They are the world’s longest species of snakes, averaging 10-20 feet in length. The reticulated python skin has a geometric pattern that camouflages the snake protecting it from predators and allowing it to ambush prey. Feeding mostly on small mammals such as rodents, large snakes may consume wild pigs, deer and even primates.
Photograph courtesy Guinness World Records.