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Turtle Back's Python Gets Annual Physical

Handlers help stretch reptile in order to measure and weigh it.

“Angie,” the 10-year-old reticulated python at Essex County's Turtle Back Zoo, had its annual checkup Wednesday and zoo officials are proud to report the reptile is in good condition, measures 17 feet, 5 inches and weighs 127 pounds.

More than a half-dozen handlers—including Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.—helped stretch the python in order to have it measured and weighed.

The annual physical was closed to the public, but the media was invited to watch inside the Education Center at the West Orange zoo.

DiVincenzo called this a rare opportunity to show what happens “behind-the-scenes” at Turtle Back.

Angie arrived in 2005 when the Education and Reptile Building first opened. At the time, the python was 14-feet long and weighed 90 pounds. At its check up last year, it was 16-feet long and 130 pounds.

Dr. Jeremy Goodman, the zoo’s director, explained that the weight loss was not a concern because the python was at the end of its feeding cycle and had not eaten in several weeks. He also noted that the snake was in “good body condition” and was thriving in its environment.

“Seeing this routine medical visit and witnessing the power and grace that the reticulated python possesses will give people a better understanding and appreciation for the animals,” Goodman stated in a release. 

Pythons are indigenous to tropical regions near the equator in Asia, Africa and Australia, but have been introduced to the United States, South America and Europe as pets. Reticulated pythons are among the longest pythons in the world and have been known to reach up to 33 feet in length.

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