33 reptiles found dead at Tennessee zoo; cause is unknown

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  — Thirty-three reptiles were found dead last week at the Knoxville zoo, and officials there say they have no clues yet about how it happened.

Zoo Knoxville told local news outlets that nearly all of the dead animals were snakes. They were all found dead in the reptile area. Surviving animals were removed and given oxygen.

Zoo officials have stopped using the reptile area for animals while the deaths are investigated.

Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New calls the deaths a "devastating and catastrophic loss."

Director of animal collections Phil Colclough says tests being conducted include checking for harmful gasses in the building and for mechanical errors on thermostats.