HONG KONG (AP) - A highly poisonous Chinese cobra mysteriously turned up in a downtown Hong Kong park and set off an emergency search before it was later found dead. A zoologist said the snake, which is treated as a delicacy by local gourmets, may have escaped from a restaurant.

Authorities called in experts after a man spotted the snake on Monday in downtown Victoria Park, said a police spokeswoman, who identified herself as Chan. The area was cordoned off before the reptile was discovered dead, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday. It was not clear how the snake died.

The newspaper identified the snake as a Chinese cobra, which can deliver life-threatening bites and is commonly found in rural parts of Hong Kong. The snakes can grow to two metres in length, though the Post did not mention the size of the one in Victoria Park.

Gary Ades, senior manager of Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden research institute, told the Post it is unusual to find such snakes "in the centre of the concrete jungle," and said it could have escaped from a restaurant.


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