ANDALUSIA, Ala. – The Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation released 25 non-venomous eastern indigo snakes into Alabama’s Conecuh National Forest on Saturday, according to zoo officials.
The eastern indigo snake is America’s longest snake and it can grow up to eight feet long, the Central Florida Zoo said. Releasing the snakes is a part of the OCIC’s efforts to reintroduce the threatened species to its native habitat.
OCIC, which is operated by the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, has now released a total of 277 snakes to the Conecuh National Forest.
The eastern indigo snake is known as the “emperor of the forest,” James Bogan, director of OCIC, said in a press release.
“We love knowing that these latest snakes now have the opportunity to take that title, and we’re proud that we have been able to restore essential balance to this important ecosystem through our work over the years,” Bogan said.
The snake’s territory was previously restricted due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and the decline of gopher tortoises, zoo officials said. The animals now rely on gopher tortoise burrows for shelter.
Eastern indigo snakes are native to the southern longleaf pine ecosystems of Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.