(KAKE) - The Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City is sad to announce the death of “Big Mama”, a 33-year-old boa constrictor who passed away on February 15th. Staff found the snake unresponsive in her habitat during a routine check. Unfortunately, efforts to revive her were unsuccessful, and test results are pending for the cause of death.

Since 1989, Big Mama has been an ambassador not only for her species but snakes and reptiles in general. Living behind the scenes at the zoo, Big Mama joined staff and volunteers, meeting zoo guests and the public during countless education center and distance learning programs, zoomobiles, events, camps, and keeper chats.

Measuring over 70 inches in length, Big Mama was the second largest snake at the zoo, and at nearly 34 years old, she was the second oldest zoo resident.  In the wild, boa constrictors may live to be 20 years old; in human care, they typically live between 25 and 30 years. 

“She had a distinct personality; she seemed to enjoy exploring enrichment items, especially boxes and paper bags.  She always found a way to pull things like my radio off my belt when I handled her.  I loved observing her climb the structure that Maintenance staff created for the snakes and watching her stretched out in the grass sunbathing.” said Lead Keeper John Anderson.  

Big Mama helped teach thousands over the years that you don’t have to be a fan of snakes to appreciate the vital role they play in their ecosystems. Fellow snake ambassadors will help continue to spread snake-friendly conservation messages, with native species viewable in the Finnup Center for Conservation Education, in addition to “Emmy”, the green tree python residing in Wild Asia.