In the early fall of 1953, ten cobras were found in northeast Springfield. The ensuing panic frightened residents, kept children indoors, and drew international attention to Springfield. No one knew how many snakes were loose in Springfield or just exactly how they got to the city, but most blamed a local exotic animal dealer, Reo Mower. The first snake was identified on August 22, with the last discovered on October 25. Luckily no one was bit or injured throughout the entire ordeal.
Preserved by Herbert Condray, a science instructor at Jarrett Junior High School in Springfield, Missouri, this cobra has multiple bullet hole wounds. This snake would have been the 6th cobra found and killed in Springfield in 1953. The snake slithered under the home of Leroy Stockton, who lived across the street from Reo Mowrer’s pet shop on St. Louis Street on September 9, 1953. Police fired tear gas canisters under the house to force the snake from the dwelling. Officer Jack Strope used his service revolver to shoot the snake; however, the bullet wounds did not kill the animal. Wounded, the snake rose and spread its hood, giving Police Chief Frank Pike an opportunity to loop this pole-mounted noose around its neck. Pike dragged the snake into the open and a hoe was used to kill the cobra. Condray preserved several of the ten cobras found in Springfield that fall. This is the only one that remains.
Contributing Institution: Drury University
Photographer: Ben Divin