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EYELASH VIPER STILL ON LOOSE, BUT REPTILE HOUSE REOPENS

A baby eyelash viper that vanished Friday from a glass tank at the Buffalo Zoo still is on the loose, but the Reptile House was reopened to the public Monday anyway.

Zoo Director Minot H. Ortolani said the mildly poisonous snake poses "no danger to the general public or to our employees."

The viewing area of the Reptile House was shut down after the 6- to 8-inch-long viper was discovered missing from a one-gallon aquarium-like tank in an off-exhibit holding room. It apparently forced open a hinged metal lid and slithered away while keepers weren't watching.

Staff members thoroughly searched the room day and night and laid sticky glue traps across doorways in a futile effort to corral the nocturnal snake.

"We'll continue the search until we find it," Ortolani said.

"The snake is more afraid of us than we are of it," said Frederick L. Paine, curator of birds and reptiles.

The eyelash viper is one of six born two months ago. All were being held off exhibit until they adapted to a diet of mouse parts and grew large enough to display.

The species, native to Central America, is distinguished by scales above the eyes that look like eyelashes.

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