Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Goodbye Estrella

We are sad to announce that last week during a routine morning check we found our red-tailed boa constrictor, Estrella, dead in her cage. Her death came as a shock to us all. Up until the end, she showed no signs of slowing down. In fact as recently as Aug 8th, she performed in a show at a Mercer Slough summer camp, doing what she did best – putting on a great show.

Estrella and her clutch mates Esteban and Estella came to Pacific Science Center in 2000 as young snakes. As they grew, each manifested a unique personality that belied the notion that all snakes are essentially interchangeable.

Estrella had always been the pistol, the spark, and the hotshot of our boa constrictor collection. She was the one who always struck at her food. For many years she was deeply and somewhat fearfully respected by generations of the presentation staff. They loved Estrella’s confidence and vigor but were kept on the alert by her moving about, showing her moods, and displaying a big, powerful personality.

When Estrella ate, she would seize the rat out of the tongs, crush it as though it were not dead, and wolf it down with gusto. It was fascinating to watch an animal go from motionless to lightning-quick so rapidly. Estrella clearly showed what extraordinary hunters these snakes can be. Occasionally we would offer Estrella more than one food item. Unlike our other boa constrictors, she would always strike at each one.

But Estrella also had a cranky side. She was known to hiss, show her fangs, and put her handlers on alert when she didn’t like something. On the rare occasions when we took her to the vet for suspected health problems, it was always because of her showing these threatening behaviors. These actions were her way of communicating to us when she felt something was not right.

Estrella always mellowed a bit once we got her feeling better. Then she would put on a fantastic performance and win everyone over with her strength, confidence, and willingness to wrap around the handler’s waist and stay in place for the entire length of a show.

Estrella had a few short illnesses in her fourteen years and Animal Care staff did not see the old crankiness that preceded her death.

We will miss her.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like she filled Adam's shoes with her crankiness! I remember when we first got her and her siblings.