San Diego Zoo Announces Name of White Monocled Cobra

A venomous white monocled cobra that made headlines in 2014 for being loose in Thousand Oaks, Calif., now has a name: Adhira (pronounced A-dhi-ra). The Hindi-derived named means “lightning.”

An online poll on the San Diego Zoo’s website received over 4,600 votes and the winning name received more than 11 percent of those votes. The other five names were Sapheda (white), Krima (cream), Cini (Sugar), Moti (pearl) and Sundara (beautiful). The cobra’s keepers came up with the list of names for the public to vote on from words and names native to Southeast Asia.

The female snake has been visible in her new habitat at the Zoo since Dec. 23, 2014. Adhira has been given mulch, live plants and rock ledges that provide her with places to hide. The cobra is leucistic, meaning she is mostly white rather than the species’ usual brown and beige coloration.

Leucism is characterized by reduced pigmentation, unlike albinism, which features no pigmentation. Measuring just over four feet long and estimated to be around 2 years old, the snake arrived at the San Diego Zoo on Sept. 5 and underwent a 90-day mandatory quarantine. Believed to be a pet that got loose or was released, the animal eluded Los Angeles County Animal Control officers for four days before being caught and sent to the Los Angeles Zoo. The San Diego Zoo was asked to take the animal, as it is one of only two zoological facilities in the United States with the proper anti-venom for the species. While not a threatened species, cobras are illegal to own in California without a permit.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Dec. 23, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo