Citrus Grove Elementary in DeLand, Florida was evacuated after a classroom’s ball python escaped. As reported by WOFL Fox 35, the 2-foot-long snake named “Brownie” belonged to a teacher, who brought the pet in a few weeks ago and kept it in the classroom while the kids studied a reptile science unit. At the start of the week on Monday at 8 a.m., the class noticed that Brownie was missing.
“The snake was loose. First, we started searching all over the classroom but then we just started working for a little bit after searching," third-grader Riley Johnson told WOFL. "Some kids were kinda sad we lost the snake, but some of us aren't that scared." Fortunately the python is non-venomous and is believed to be non-danger. Still, WFTV Channel 9 notes that the school evacuated approximately 800 students for 30 to 45 minutes while a search was launched. A representative from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission, who happened to be at the school on an unrelated matter, worked with the FWC staff searching for Brownie. Unfortunately, the snake has yet to turn up.
WKMG Local 6 reports that the python escaped its glass aquarium some time over the weekend. Principal Barbara Head granted the teacher permission to bring the pet into the classroom and explained, "The cage has a plastic lid that was locked. When it was locked there may have been a bend in the plastic that created a gap." Principal Head sent letters home to parents about the incident and students have been instructed to tell an adult if they see Brownie.
While the snake falls within the Volusia County Schools’ guidelines for exotic pets in the classroom, Principal Head told WOFL that she would have to reconsider the school’s policy on the matter following this incident. Ms. Head added, “You hate to take away opportunities for kids to have live animal study. But you never want the animal to escape and have to search.”