On Sunday, June 13, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, one of the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo’s longtime residents, passed away. Affectionately called “Big Girl”, the zoo’s largest rattlesnake was found deceased by zookeepers. Since cause of death is unknown, veterinarians at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Zoological Medicine Service will perform a necropsy to determine the cause.
Big Girl came to the Zoo in the summer of 1995. She was one of the first snakes that moved to the current Herp House a couple years later. In 2011, she was introduced to another female eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Graduates have fond memories of observing their first curious interactions. Their habitat is front and center when guests walk up to the reptile building, and both snakes were often seen curled up next to or on each other.
In 2015, Big Girl was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After her surgery, she was cancer free for six years. For some, it may be hard to imagine getting attached to a six-foot venomous snake, but our staff and zookeepers appreciated her relaxed personality and striking beauty. She was instrumental in teaching students how to safely care for venomous snakes and was an important ambassador for native snakes in Florida.
You can visit all of our exceptional reptiles and other zoo residents every day from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Donations to the SF Teaching Zoo are always appreciated and help to provide high quality care to the animals, improve their habitats, and provide education and conservation efforts to ensure a future for wildlife. Visit sfcollege.edu/zoo/support.