At first, the news of a poisonous Egyptian cobra going missing from the Reptile House at the Bronx Zoo was concerning to a few, namely the employees. But maybe we all needed a little distraction from the news of unrest in Libya, the ongoing nuclear meltdown in Japan, and the general doom and gloom around the worsening U. S. economy and rising gas prices. After a colleague shared the Twitter feeds with me, I became captivated by a 20-inch snake.
As you have heard by now, it wasn’t just any snake — it was a poisonous Egyptian cobra that could kill in less than 15 minutes.
As the story goes, a zoo employee noticed the poisonous predator was missing from its enclosure in the Reptile House, and zoo officials closed the exhibit on March. 25.
After a weeklong search, the snake was found safe and unhurt inside the Reptile House on March 31.
During its hiatus, some industrious and comedic person began impersonating the snake, tweeting about life in the Big Apple. In less than a week, Bronx Zoo’s Cobra had more than 230,000 followers. As we work with our clients to expand their reach among target audiences through social media platforms like Twitter, what we wouldn’t give to achieve that kind of reach in such a short period of time.
Some of my favorite tweets:
• On top of the Empire State Building! All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice. #snakeonthetown
• If you see a bag of peanuts inexplicably moving along the ground at Yankee Stadium today. Just ignore it. It’s probably nothing.
Soon news of the snake’s whereabouts and adventures in New York City were being covered by late night TV personalities Jon Stewart and David Letterman, newspapers and nightly news. That’s the power of social media and how a story goes viral and enters mainstream media.
Now that the roaming reptile is safely back in its enclosure in the Reptile House, the zoo is sponsoring a contest to name the snake. In the world of public relations, that’s how you maintain momentum and keep a story alive.
— Barb Jones