The King Cobra: The King of Cobras

Escaped king cobra crawls back to Swedish terrarium

Svenska arkiver är till salu.

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This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Cobra King

The king cobra, or king of cobras in Sweden, is one of the most venomous snakes in the world. Now, its king is a bit out of the cage, or at least out of the cage it was put in in 1957.

John Söderlund (1896-1966), who was born in Finland, was a businessman who bought the land bordering Lake Vättern from the Swedish national forest service. He was well aware of the threats posed by venomous snakes like the king cobra, so he built a giant glass tank in the middle of his property, where his favorite snake, “King Cobra”, could be kept.

From a very young age, Söderlund had his own dream to turn his large glass tank into a reptile breeding facility. King Cobras were brought to Sweden from India and other parts of Asia where they were exported as a form of exotic sport. As a result the king cobra became one of Sweden’s most popular snakes.

During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, the king cobra was bought from India by a New York dealer. It arrived in Sweden in 1932 and became so popular that it was called King Cobra No. 1. By the 1950’s, King Cobra No. 1 was imported from India to Australia and eventually Europe. Once it was transported back to Sweden, the king cobra’s fame spread. In 1957, King Cobra No. 1 was smuggled out of Sweden and the king cobra was given to Söderlund, who built a glass enclosure where he could keep it.

The king cobra was a new species then, and it got its name from its king-like appearance, which helped to distinguish it from the many other similarly-shaped snakes in the world. Unfortunately, the king cobra, no longer a new species, was misidentified as a separate species, i.e. the king viper. King Cobra No. 1 was the “king” or “prince” viper, and it spread in Australia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America

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