To earn the Wildlife Conservation Society's $50,000 reward, the snake must be at least 30 feet long. And it must be delivered alive and in good health, accompanied by all necessary permits and paperwork, to the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
Want to make a quick $50,000? Go out and catch yourself a snake.
But it can't be just any old snake. To earn the Wildlife Conservation Society's $50,000 reward, the snake must be at least 30 feet long. And it must be delivered alive and in good health, accompanied by all necessary permits and paperwork, to the Bronx Zoo in New York City.
Now, before you embark on the Great Snake Hunt, there's something else you should know.
The reward was first offered in the early 1900s by President Theodore Roosevelt, a close friend of William T. Hornaday, the Bronx Zoo's director at the time. And the money--initially $1,000, then $10,000, and now $50,000--is still unclaimed.
Why? Because it's quite possible that snakes don't grow that large.
Throughout history, explorers' tales abound of giant snakes measuring 30, 40, and even 50 feet in length. For example, in 1907 a British adventurer named Percy Fawcett claimed to have shot a giant anaconda (Eunectes murinus) measuring 62 feet. Since Fawcett didn't think to bring back the carcass, few people believed his claim.
In 1959, a Belgian helicopter pilot named Remy Van Lierde is said to have photographed a giant snake as it slithered across the Congo floor. The snake was estimated at about 40 or 50 feet in length. But again, no carcass was collected to confirm this rather sensational report. Furthermore, the purported photograph is about as convincing as a black-and-white picture of Godzilla or Mothra.
Many snake skins have been accurately measured at more than 30 feet. However, as most leatherworkers know, a snake's skin can be easily stretched without obvious distortion, adding as much as a quarter of the skin's original length.
Just how big can a snake really get? The Guinness Book of World Records credits a reticulated python (Python reticulatus) that was slain on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 1912 as the longest snake ever reliably measured. According to Guinness, this whopper was 39.4 feet in length. A close second, Guinness maintains, was a 38.3-foot African rock python (Python sebae) shot on the Ivory Coast in 1932.