14 Jul Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Day: October 1

West Orange, NJ – In celebration of World Snake Day, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. helped animal keepers from Essex County Turtle Back Zoo measure and weigh the reticulated python. The 16-year-old python, named Angie, weighed 132 pounds and was 17 feet 2¾ inches long. World Snake Day is Saturday, July 16th.

“Turtle Back Zoo is a fascinating and exciting place where exotic animals from around the world are on view. Having students from our summer camp and allowing the public to view the weigh-in and measuring is a rare opportunity to get an up close look at these strong reptiles that usually are only seen behind glass,” DiVincenzo said.

“We are always looking for new ways to expand the zoo experience to educate the public about nature and conservation, and to raise awareness about the important role animals have in the world,” Turtle Back Zoo Director Brint Spencer said. “Witnessing the power and grace that the reticulated python possesses will give people a better understanding and appreciation for the animals,” he added.

Pythons are indigenous to tropical regions near the equator in Asia, Africa and Australia. They were introduced to the United States, South America and Europe as pets. Reticulated pythons are among the longest in the world, with the record being 33 feet. The reticulated python came to Turtle Back Zoo in 2005 when the Education and Reptile Building opened. When it first arrived it was 14 feet long and 90 pounds.

Generally, pythons have a forked tongue that helps them detect their prey. They kill through constriction, which means they literally squeeze the life out of their prey causing asphyxiation, or suffocation. Pythons swallow the entire body of their prey, so the larger the prey the longer it takes to digest. This means the reptile may only eat four to five times a year. In the wild, pythons feed on lizards, caiman (small alligator-like animals), monkeys, antelope and farm animals.

The Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for children and senior citizens, and free for children younger than 2 years. For more information, please call 973-731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org.

Revitalizing Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

 Since taking office in 2003, DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $70 million in upgrades to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, which have included developing a new Educational Building, the Carousel with 33 figures of endangered animals; building the Sea Lion Sound Exhibit with sea lions, sharks and sting rays; the Big Cat Country Exhibit with jaguars and cougars; Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve with white cheeked gibbons apes, Reeves muntjac and white naped cranes; Australian Exhibit that features kangaroos, wallabies, emus and over 500 birds in the Aviary; Reptile and Education Center, open air dining pavilion and playground, Penguin Exhibit, Otter Exhibit, Wolf Exhibit, Alligator Exhibit, North American Animal Exhibit, Black Bear Exhibit, Animal Hospital, Essex Farm Petting Zoo and South American Animal Exhibit; renovating the Food Pavilion for year-round use and making upgrades to the entrance as well as fencing and infrastructure to meet AZA requirements. Funding has been provided through Green Acres grants, existing capital improvement bonds, or donations from the Zoological Society, Essex County Parks Foundation, corporations or private foundations. Corporations that have provided support include Investors Bank, Prudential Financial, Inc., Wells Fargo (Wachovia Bank), PNC Bank, PSE&G, Verizon, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Coca Cola, Capital One Bank, TD Bank, Aramark, Covanta Energy and OxyMagic carpet cleaning.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 22 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Turtle Back Zoo is located in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation and was opened to the public in 1963.