The highly strung citizens of New York have yet another reason to feel on edge: one of the world's most poisonous creatures has escaped from its protected enclosure at The Bronx Zoo.
The Egyptian cobra, which according to breathless TV news reports can execute a human in just 15 minutes (or a fully-grown bull elephant in a mere three hours) is thought to have escaped from its perspex cage.
Zoo officials say the adolescent male, measuring approximately 20 inches long, is unlikely to have ventured far from its home turf. And they have closed the zoo's reptile house "until further notice" while keepers try to find it.
The zoo said New Yorkers had nothing to be anxious about in the wake of the snake-out.
"Based on our knowledge of the natural history and actions of snakes, we know they seek closed-in spaces and are not comfortable in open areas. We are sure that the snake, about 20 inches long, is contained in a non-public, isolation area within the building," the zoo said in a statement.