A specially designed enclosure, the Cobra’s Curse Snake Exhibit is located within the queue for the roller coaster and features several species of African serpents.
Official Open Date: June 17, 2016
Location: Egypt (in Cobra’s Curse queue)
Species: Jameson’s mamba, Angolan python, rhinoceros viper, gaboon viper
As Cobra’s Curse was under construction, there were rumors the new attraction would incorporate live snakes in some way. The entire Egypt section of the park was closed in early 2016 as work extended out from the roller coaster site. As a hint of what was to come, two sets of boxes and signs warning guests to “Beware of Snakes” were hung on the construction walls blocking the path into Egypt. Braver guests who ignored the warning to keep their hands out of the holes in the boxes may have received a bit of a surprise.
A press release on February 17, 2016, confirmed an exhibit would be part of the queue of Cobra’s Curse. From the release:
This summer, guests will come face to fang from the moment they enter Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay’s newest attraction, Cobra’s Curse™. Today, the park debuted plans for its thrill ride queue line, featuring several of the world’s most notorious snake species that naturally fuel guests’ adrenaline.
“The snake exhibit at Cobra’s Curse will allow us to combine the best of what Busch Gardens has to offer – animals and thrill rides,” says Jeff Andrews, Vice President, Zoological Operations at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “This exhibit will give our guests an unforgettable experience while continuing the conversation around conservation and education by highlighting the species and their important role in the wild, which is our top priority.”
Guests will be just inches away from the 400-cubic-foot snake exhibit which will include Jameson’s mambas, Angolan pythons and rhinoceros and gaboon vipers. The design of the multi-level exhibit not only reflects the theme of the ride, but also features several animal husbandry and enrichment components designed with the snakes’ welfare in mind, including naturalistic design elements, controlled heat sources and humidity control.
As part of a series of webisodes, the park released a video on April 28, 2016, that looked at the queue experience. Part of the video focused on the snake habitat.
The new exhibit came with some concerns from animal advocates on how the snakes would handle being in an environment with vibrations and sounds from Cobra’s Curse. An article in the Tampa Bay Times on May 20, 2016, took a deeper look into the preparations the park was making and quoting advocates and reptile experts.
Busch Gardens conceded snakes are sensitive to vibrations, sharing in a written statement to the newspaper “It is correct that snakes do have an acute sense of reverberations. Our highly accredited zoo team has been thoughtfully working on creating a process to slowly acclimate the snakes to their new environment in the queue line at Cobra’s Curse.”
The park invited the newspaper to see the acclimation process going on behind the scenes, where Phil Hillary, manager of zoological operations, explained the process. For months, the snakes remained in quarantine in a building near the park’s compost and mulch piles. Noises and vibrations from front-end loaders and other sources were followed by feedings to reward the snakes and create a positive response.
Animal care staff monitored the snakes closely, looking for any negative health effects in their behavior and shedding patterns. They were expected to be introduced into the new habitat in the Cobra’s Curse queue by the last week of May 2016.
Pixels At The Parks | Jan 11 2016 – accessed 1/14/2016
Pixels At The Parks | Jan 20 2016 – accessed 1/24/2016
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay | Feb 17 2016 – accessed 1/6/2018
Tampa Bay Times | May 20 2016 – accessed 5/21/2016
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay | Jun 10 2016 – accessed 1/7/2018