Monty 1978-2016 | ‘He never bit anyone in his 35 years here at the zoo, which is rare!’

Louisville Zoo officials were forced to euthanize Monty, a popular 38-year-old male Burmese python after he was recently diagnosed with cancer.

The giant snake hadn’t been eating well and was losing weight after developing lymphoma, an immune system cancer, according to a zoo statement. The veterinary and HerpAquarium teams decided the most humane course was to euthanize the python on Tuesday.

In death, he is now globally famous. News of his demise was reported as far away as Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, plus media outlets in Pocatello, IdahoHarlingen, TexasRaleigh, N.C; Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Clarksburg, West Virginia.

It was the second death at the zoo in the past four months. In March, a 27-year-old western lowlands gorilla named Mia Moja died from complications after giving birth to a female baby via emergency cesarean section. The infant, named Kindi, survived.

Monty arrived at the zoo in 1981, when he was just three years old. He was an admired and honored resident at the 47-year-old zoo. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association Kentucky Animal Hall of Fame, which honors and recognizes exceptional animals.

“Monty was a great ambassador for his species. For years we would take him to radio and TV stations with his impressive 13½ foot length,” said Bill McMahan, curator of ectotherms and supervisor of the HerpAquarium that Monty called home. “He never bit anyone in his 35 years here at the zoo, which is rare!”

Live in wild 25-30 years

The Burmese python is one of the six largest snakes in the world. Lengths of more than 15 feet are common, and they may exceed 18 to 19 feet. They are constrictors, so they don’t have fangs. But they do have back curving teeth that grab prey and don’t let it escape. At the Zoo, pythons are fed poultry, large rodents and rabbits. Their life span in the wild can be 25-30 years.

Sandra Frazier
Sandra Frazier

Opened in 1969, the Louisville Zoo currently exhibits more than 1,500 animals on 134 acres of natural settings at 1100 Trevilian Way. The Zoo Foundation’s 25-member board includes Brown-Forman Director Sandra Frazier, recently appointed to the reorganized University of Louisville board of trustees. Her cousin, Catherine Frazier Joy, is a major zoo benefactor through her Frazier Joy Family Foundation, which donated $250,000 to the zoo in 2014.

Related: Monty is a popular name for snakes as a playful reference to Monty Python, British surreal comedy group that created the British sketch comedy show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” that aired between 1969 and 1974.

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