Escaped king cobra captured behind woman's dryer

Venomous 8-foot snake found in Ocoee garage

ORLANDO, Fla. – A venomous king cobra that escaped from its Orlando home more than a month ago was found and captured late Wednesday night behind a dryer inside a woman's garage.

[VIDEO: Full Animal Services news conference | Animal Control news conference highlights | MORE: Cobra creates buzz | MAP: Find venomous snakes near you | AUDIO:  School alerts parents | 2nd alert  | PICS: Traps set]


The 8- to 10-foot snake was found at a home in the 5000 block of Sawdust Circle in Ocoee, about a quarter-mile from where it was reported missing in early September by its owner, Mike Kennedy, who lives near North Apopka Vineland Road, just south of Clarcona Ocoee Road.

Officials said the woman was putting clothes in her dryer when she heard a hissing sound and discovered the snake.  She called Orange County Animal Services, which retrieved the king cobra, named Elvis, and returned it to Kennedy.

[VIDEO:  Woman describes snake discovery]

"She didn't know exactly what kind of snake it was," Animal Services Senior Officer Billy Ledford said.  "All she knew was that it was a very large snake.  It was hissing underneath the dryer."

Ledford said the snake put up a fight before being caught.

"I did notice when I was there it was acting aggressive and, of course, was hissing," Ledford said.

"It was approximately 8 to 10 feet in length," said Jenifer Porter, Orange County Animal Services Senior Officer. "When it (raised) up, it was taller than me."

An escaped king cobra is caught in Ocoee.

Animal Services said the snake's posturing allowed Officer Kirsten Jones to secure the snake's tail while Ledford overtook the animal with tongs.

"I attempted to put the snake in my snake box, but it was too large to fit," said Ledford, who has extensive knowledge and experience handling exotic animals.  "I put the snake in a cat cage.  I then put the contained snake in a secondary soft carrier that I had in the truck, double-securing the snake."

" We just didn't want it to get away and it started to get away and started to go into the house," Porter said. "It was trying to go into the house. It was trying to go into the garage area and it was a little aggravating at that point in time."

No one was injured.

A microchip inside the snake confirmed that it was the missing cobra.

Kennedy's wife, Valerie Kennedy, said she was happy to have Elvis back home.

"We're thankful," Valerie Kennedy said.  "We're thankful for law enforcement and what everyone's done for us."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the Kennedys' new cage was inspected and meets the agency's requirements.

"Public safety and the welfare of animals are certainly our priorities," FWC spokesman Greg Workman said in a statement.  "There is a process in place for reviewing licenses after incidents like this one. We are currently going through that process with Mr. Kennedy's license and will provide details once that is concluded."

Mike Kennedy, a cast member of the Discovery Channel's "Airplane Repo," was in court Wednesday, accused of waiting more than two days before reporting the escape of the snake to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. His trial is scheduled for early November.

"Dragon Ranch would like to thank Law enforcement, FWC, animal control, our neighbors and the community for the understanding, support and love that has been extended to us in this difficult time," a Facebook post on the Airplane Repo page stated. "Your vigilance has been vital to the safety of the public and the recovering of the animal. We are so grateful for this happy end without harm to anyone. This is a huge relief for Mike and our family. The Cobra is pretty beat up and weak and Mike will do all he can to nurse this sick animal back to health. We are taking steps to go above and beyond the guidelines set by FWC to insure nothing like this ever happens again. It is important not to loose sight of the important work that animal shelters and Sanctuaries do for animals across the country. Free range animals are in trouble, pressured by habitat encroachment and exploitation, resulting in declining populations. Animals need our protection, even the ones we fear. Dragon Ranch will continue to save animals here and abroad."

Students at a nearby elementary school weren't allowed outside for recess during the early days of the search.

The FWC stopped actively searching for the missing king cobra weeks after the snake's escape. 

Stay with News 6 and for updates on this developing story.