Capturing Black Mambas in Palo Alto

Palo Alto is a relatively quiet place, where newsworthy events rarely occur.  A few years ago, I received a call from the local PTA "phone tree" that parents needed to drive their children to school because someone had called the local department of animal control to report they had lost their pet black mamba snake, which is one of the most poisonous vipers in the world.  The neurotoxin of this snake assures 100% likelihood of death if not treated within 10 minutes.  Now this reported "lost pet" seemed quite unlikely to me, and then-preschoolers Greg, Camille,and their friends were very concerned about this loose snake.  One afternoon, I announced that we would be building a "trap" for this snake using old building materials, Camille's rubber duck as bait, and Greg's rubber snake for companionship.   Here is our effort:
This is Greg (holding a frog), Carly (holding some grass), and Camille (holding her hat), standing next to their newly-created chicken-wire snake trap, baited with a fluffy chicken, and a rubber snake.  This photo was taken on our front lawn.

The next day, the following article appeared, and since nobody could locate an actual snake to write about, our front lawn became the staging area for various national TV news crews, AP newpaper photograph backdrops, etc.  This intense national media  interest in the "black mamba story" persisted for about 2 weeks.  No black mamba, or "former owner" was ever located.


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Last modified Mar 12, 2000