Missing: One Cobra, Found: Some Levity
April 1st, 2011

It took an escaped Egyptian cobra and the power of Twitter to capture the imagination of this country.  I’m sure that overstates it a bit (maybe even a lot) but there’s something really enchanting about this whole reptilian escapade.

For those who perhaps haven’t been following along at home (hi Granddaddy), last week an Egyptian cobra (about an inch and a half in diameter, 20 inches long, and highly venomous) escaped from her enclosed habitat at the Bronx zoo.  Given the dangerous nature of this particular ex-con, people became highly curious about her whereabouts.  And the whole search took on a much more lighthearted tone when some clever genius created the Twitter account @BronxZoosCobra, documenting her supposed adventures throughout the city.

The best part about this whole thing?  This Twitter feed has more than 200,000 followers.  To put that into context, that’s more followers than all of the state of Texas news organizations’ followers combined.  People ate it up, the very fact of which tells me that we all need some levity.

Some of my favorite tweets:

Gonna listen to some Jazz tonight. You know I love some great flute work. Do they provide it or is it bring your own basket?

Taking the Sex and the City Tour!!! I’m totally a SSSamantha.

On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice.

City may not sleep, but I’m ready to. Ooh a chimney! I bet you bragged to your friends about having a working fireplace in NYC. Hi roomie.

We sit here in a world filled with bad news.  The Middle East seems to be crumbling one country at a time.  Our economy is still shaky.  Unions and state governments are at each other’s throats across the Midwest.  And if there’s something fun and harmless that we can all agree upon, it’s that the idea of an escaped cobra going on a Manhattan sightseeing expedition is a hoot.

Yesterday morning the missing cobra was found.  She was coiled up in a dark corner of the reptile house, never having seen the light of day.  And strangely, when I read of her capture I was sad.  As of last night @BronxZoosCobra hadn’t tweeted in more than seven hours, a long time for a snake who’d been updating every couple of hours prior to that.  Her heyday has clearly ended.  Of course I think it’s better not to have a highly dangerous snake on the lam.  But it’s also sad that this thing – this amusement and diversion – is over.  We clearly needed it.

For a blogger I’m not a huge user of social media.  My usage of Facebook and Twitter is cursory at best.  But in moments like this I’m hard pressed to deny their power.  This was a 5:00 news afterthought that turned into a cultural moment because someone with a knack for one-liners opened a Twitter account.

I guess where I’m going with this is, thank you @BronxZoosCobra.  Thanks for seizing an opportunity and creating some fun where there was none.  We need to lighten the mood every now and then.  You were just the Twicket.

3 Responses to “Missing: One Cobra, Found: Some Levity”

  1. Anne Says:

    Wow…I totally missed this whole thing. Where have I been? Wish I’d been following. And yes, our country needed a little humor. I think lately I’ve been watching more local news than national/international. I tend to do that when the going gets tough. I miss some of the worst, but I miss the good too:) Brian Williams should do a story on @BronxZoosCobra for his “making a difference”! Laughter is something…

  2. Laura H. Says:

    This story was such a hoot. My best friend who lives in NYC especially enjoyed all the tweets. Glad the little girl was found, and that she was safe, albeit not touring the city. There’s something about NYC inside jokes that I love and wish applied to my life. Whenever there is a sketch clearly written for New Yorkers on Saturday Night Live, I have some NYC jealousy!

  3. Cathy Says:

    I am so disappointed to have missed this! I agree with your take Gale, it’s nice to have some levity these days. I wonder who the person is behind the @BronxZoosCobra….nice little mystery. Maybe he/she’ll end up on Letterman.