Oregon Zoo's 15-foot-long Burmese python Bubba euthanized after cancer diagnosis

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Zoo's 15-foot-long and 110-pound Burmese python named Bubba was euthanized after a battle with cancer. Bubba was 25 years old. That is the average life-expectancy range for Burmese pythons.

Bubba was an ambassador for his species, Oregon Zoo deputy director Sheri Horiszny told KPTV. His story spoke to the perils of exotic pet ownership.

(Credit: Oregon Zoo)

The python first entered the public eye during a nine-year stay at OMSI. OMSI staff cared for him after a pet owner could no longer handle the fast-growing snake.

Bubba was 10 feet long and weighed 50 pounds when he arrived at OMSI in 1997, joining smaller reptile and amphibian species in the museum's Life Science Lab.

As he kept growing, Bubba became too large for his OMSI enclosure. The Oregon Zoo took him in in 2006.

Approaching 14 feet long and 100 pounds, Bubba took up residence in the zoo's Fragile Forests area, but he continued to grow. In 2013, caregivers moved him to a larger space in the zoo's Predators of the Serengeti area - even though Burmese pythons are not native to Africa - to provide him with a more comfortable home.

The Burmese python, one of the largest snakes in the world, is considered vulnerable in its native Southeast Asia range due to habitat loss, hunting for leather and captured for sale as pets.

The pet trade has also led to problems in the U.S. Zoo workers said people have kept the pythons as pets until they grew too big to handle, then released them into the wild, where they threaten local ecosystems.

"Many 'exotic' animals have complex care needs that can only be met by people with specialized training at licensed and properly equipped facilities, such as AZA-accredited zoos," Horiszny said. "Bubba was a much-loved snake in our community, and he'll be sorely missed. We hope his story helps people make more responsible pet ownership decisions."