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Fort Wayne Children's Zoo weighs its big python

Bo the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's reticulated python is one big snake. (Courtesy photo)
Bo the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's reticulated python is one big snake. (Courtesy photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:31 am
Aug. 22, 2013 It's weigh-in day for Bo, the zoo's reticulated python, and keepers in the Indonesian Rain Forest area of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo have been preparing for the procedure since early morning.

"We start by placing his wooden crate right next to his exhibit," explains zookeeper Dave Messmann. Bo slithers into the crate almost right away.

"Snakes are naturally drawn to dark hiding places," says Messmann.

With Bo safely in the crate, Messmann and zookeeper Tim Jedele completely clean the snake's exhibit.

"Bo is a very active snake, and he knocks over the artificial plants all the time," says Messmann.

Once the exhibit is cleaned, Messmann and Jedele weigh the snake — crate and all — on a portable scale.

After subtracting the weight of the empty crate, Messmann calculates that Bo weighs about 65 pounds – a gain of 10 pounds since the snake was last weighed in April after he arrived from the Children's Zoo in Saginaw, Michigan.

It's tough to measure the length of a large snake, but Messmann decides to give it a try when Bo is released back into the exhibit. After a little coaxing, Bo leaves his hiding place and enters the just-cleaned exhibit, conveniently sliding along the window where Messmann has placed a tape measure.

“The tail tip is out!” Jedele calls, and Messmann checks the placement of Bo's nose against the tape: 15 feet, 6 inches – a gain of about 9 inches since Bo arrived.

Bo gets busy checking out (and messing up) most of the work that Jedele and Messmann did that morning in his exhibit. But it's Bo's busy lifestyle that has made him a real crowd-pleaser.

“He likes to climb up the glass and look right at you,” Messmann says. “It kind of takes people by surprise.”

Messmann is pleased with Bo's weight gain and growth.

“He is an awesome snake,” Messmann says. “It's great to see zoo guests enjoying and learning about him.”

Read more about reticulated pythons at http://kidszoo.org/our-animals/indonesian-rain-forest/reticulated-python/.The zoo will close at noon this Friday so we can prepare for our new fundraising event, Zoo Brew & Wine Too, presented by Chase.

As a non-profit organization, the zoo relies on events like Zoo Brew & Wine Too presented by Chase to raise important funds for animal care, education efforts and conservation programs. The zoo receives no tax dollars for its operation.

Thanks for your understanding as we launch this new event!Enter our Scarecrow Safari and win a free zoo field trip!

Your family, school, scout or youth group can create and display up to three life-sized scarecrows in our Scarecrow Safari at the Wild Zoo Halloween.

Almost anything can be used to create scarecrows as long as all items are weatherproof. There is no cost to enter, and your scarecrows will be enjoyed by our 25,000 Wild Zoo Halloween guests!

Download a Scarecrow Safari contest entry form at http://kidszoo.org/programs-and-events/wild-zoo-halloween/.

All entries are eligible to win free zoo admission for up to 10 children and 4 adults, a $139 value! Questions? E-mail education@kidszoo.org or call us at 427-6808.

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