Florida wildlife officials no longer searching for escaped king cobra

FWC hopes less commotion will help snake enter trap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials are no longer actively searching the grounds of an Orange County home for a venomous king cobra that escaped from a home near an Orlando elementary school.

[MORE: Cobra creates buzz | MAP: Find venomous snakes near you | VIDEO:  Search ongoing  | AUDIO:  School alerts parents | 2nd alert  | PICS: Traps set]

Greg Workman, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told News 6 on Monday that the agency is relying on the snake's owner, Mike Kennedy, to check traps set for the king cobra.

He added that FWC personnel are managing Kennedy's search, and the agency is checking in with Kennedy by both phone and in person.

Wildlife officials said they believe the snake is still on Kennedy's property, and the less commotion in the woods around the house, the more likely the snake will come out.

Workman said the snake's capture remains one of the agency's top priorities.

Kennedy, a cast member of the Discovery Channel's "Airplane Repo," said he arrived home from a two-day trip a couple of weeks ago to find that rain had damaged a wall in the cobra's cage, allowing the snake to escape.

Kennedy was cited for the snake's escape and has a scheduled court appearance in October.

"(That's) kind of like the fox watching the chicken house," said Judi Brown, a neighbor of Kennedy.

She said she's concerned the cobra may get into her horses' play yard.

"He'll show up sooner or later and somebody will be surprised," she said.

Meanwhile, students at Clarcona Elementary School were allowed to go outside for recess after being forced inside for more than a week because of an escaped king cobra nearby, Orange County school officials said.

[LISTEN:  School sends new alert to parents]

Orange County Public Schools spokeswoman Lorena Hitchcock said maintenance crews cut grass and trees over the weekend, and Principal Robert Strenth sent a Connect Orange call to parents over the weekend notifying them that starting Monday, children would be allowed outside.

Students attended outdoor recess and were allowed in classes in portable buildings that surround the school on Monday morning.

Strenth said crews and staff will continue to keep a watchful eye on the campus to make sure the venomous cobra doesn't surprise anyone.

Parents thanked the principal for his caution, but they told News 6 they were very concerned about FWC's plan to suspend their ground searches.

"I still think there should be some experts looking for it," said one parent. "That would make me feel a lot better as a parent. "

Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.

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