The hatching of Indian cobras in the San Diego Zoo's Reptile House made headlines in 1946, for they and their predecessor, hatched here in 1944, were the first zoo-bred cobras to hatch in the US. Only two of the eight eggs laid in 1944 hatched, but all of the nine eggs in the 1946 clutch yielded perfect and very much alive miniatures of their parents, which were imported from India in 1940. An African cobra, received at the Zoo in 1928, held a record for length of life of captive cobras at that time.
The San Diego Zoo has Sri Lankan spectacled cobras, a red spitting cobra, and a king cobra in our collection. In December 2014, a "rescued" white monocled cobra made her debut at the Reptile House. The cobra is leucistic, meaning she is mostly white rather than the species' typical brown and beige. Leucism is characterized by reduced pigmentation, unlike albinism, which features a lack of pigmentation. Thought to be a released pet, this snake was on the lam in Thousand Oaks for several days eluding capture by Animal Control officers until she was finally caught and taken to the Los Angeles Zoo. San Diego Zoo was asked to take the reptile, as we are only one of two zoos in the United States with the proper anti-venom.
Monocled cobras, when threatened, raise their body, spread their impressive hood, usually hiss, and strike in an attempt to bite and defend themselves, injecting a powerful toxin that can be fatal.
While not a threatened species, cobras are illegal to own in California without a permit.
These snakes and many other reptiles can be seen in the Zoo’s popular Reptile House.