The 15-foot-long snake that was the star attraction of the National Aquarium's new Amazon River Forest exhibit was found dead in its tank yesterday.
Researchers believe the 13-year-old anaconda, which was born in the Bronx Zoo, died from a bowel obstruction, said Jill Galloway, the aquarium's public relations manager.
"This is a real tragedy," said Galloway.
Although the aquarium has a second anaconda in a storage tank, biologists want to make sure there's nothing wrong with the exhibit before replacing the snake, Galloway said.
Biologists believe that the environment in the tank was healthy and that the anaconda died of a medical condition commonly found in dogs, in which the bowel folds up upon itself like a telescope, cutting off the animal's blood supply, according to aquarium officials.
More than 400,000 people have visited the Amazon River Forest exhibit since it opened March 3. It is the aquarium's first new permanent exhibit since 1990.
The $3 million jungle landscape shows the complex varieties of life on the riverbanks and shallows of the Amazon in South Africa. It complements a 19-year-old display called the Amazon Rain Forest, which focuses on life among jungle treetops.