Missouri snake show 'Venom Fest' shut down after cobra disappears

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MOSCOW MILLS, Mo. (KTVI) – It was a two-day event over the weekend in Moscow Mills, Missouri called “Venom Fest.” Saturday went off without a hitch, but Sunday’s show was canceled after a deadly Egyptian cobra went missing.

The event organizer says strict safety precautions were in effect for the 200-300 snakes at the “Midwest Venom Fest” show. Snakes were not allowed out of their sealed containers for any reason.

He says before the doors opened for Day 2, a vendor found one of his containers had been moved and was empty, but still sealed.

“They’re all in sealed containers. That’s what’s making it very difficult to believe that this was a mistake,” said Micky Meyer with Show-Me Reptiles. “The snake didn’t put the lid back on and the snake didn’t move its container two feet.”

The St. Louis Herpetological Society, which focuses on educating the public about reptiles, has had education booths at shows but not Venom Fest events. Earlier this year, the Festus City Council voted to no longer allow them.

“They’re beautiful animals … We just didn’t want to be associated with it,” said Bill Keith with the St. Louis Herpetological Society. “We thought it was a bad idea because so much can go wrong. We support these guys wanting to keep these animals, that’s fine.”

“It’s more geared toward education and getting other venomous keepers from around the country to come and learn and network with each other,” said Meyer.

Both he and police believe the cobra snake is more likely stolen than escaped. He says a team of experienced keepers conducted a 6- to 7-hour search and plan another complete sweep out of an abundance of caution.

“There’s no dust trails,” said Meyer. “There’s really no evidence of a snake being loose in there because a lot of times when they get loose they poop, too. We haven’t seen any evidence of a loose snake. … I just don’t think we’re going to be doing any of these venomous shows anymore.”

Missouri requires venomous reptile owners to register with local police unless cities, like Festus and St. Louis, prohibit ownership.

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