Special visitor slithers into Knoxville Zoo

Buttercup, a 23-foot-long reticulated python, will be on display at the Knoxville Zoo starting Saturday and continuing through Labor Day.

Photo by Michael Patrick/News Sentinel

Buttercup, a 23-foot-long reticulated python, will be on display at the Knoxville Zoo starting Saturday and continuing through Labor Day.

Knoxville Zoo

Knoxville

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3500 Knoxville Zoo Dr

865-637-5331

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For several years now the Knoxville Zoo has marked the summer visitor/tourist season from spring to early fall with special exhibits.

The zoo has hosted mole rats and bunnies and butterflies. Previous tours of white alligators have proven so popular that another one returns this season.

But this year the zoo is adding a really, really big attraction by the name of Buttercup.

Buttercup is the lovely-sounding name for the largest snake on exhibit in America. At the zoo in her own specially built exhibit through Labor Day, this really is one huge snake. Buttercup is a 23-foot-long reticulated python. At age 15, she weighs more than 200 pound and has a 2-foot girth.

At the zoo, Buttercup isn’t likely to show off her full length. In her exhibit equipped with a heating pad and warming lamps, she’s more likely to curl up in really fat coils.

Native to Southeast Asia, reticulated pythons are the world’s biggest snake species. The biggest recorded individual measured 33 feet. Buttercup, now a middle-age python, likely will get a few feet longer and more than few pounds heavier. She’s called a reticulated python because of the pattern of her nearly iridescent skin, with colors that range from black to silver to coppery gold.

Again, Buttercup isn’t the park’s only exotic summer visitor. Nearby is the zoo’s latest white alligator summer visitor. Named Tallulah, the rare gator is 6 feet long and weighs 40 pounds.

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