ST. LOUIS A two-headed snake named "We," the main
attraction at the World Aquarium, has died.
The 8-year-old rat snake died of natural causes during the
weekend, said caretaker Leonard Sonnenschein. Most two-headed
snakes survive for only a week or two.
"It's terrible news," Sonnenschein said. "People come in
every day and say: 'I'm here to see the two-headed snake."
Sonnenschein said more than a million people have seen We over
the years. Children were especially fascinated by the snake,
wondering how two heads could coexist on the same body as We
sometimes strained to slither in two directions at once.
"These kinds of questions helped spur the science spirit in
children," Sonnenschein said.
Sonnenschein said he bought We from a snake breeder in Indiana
for $15,000 when the reptile was just a few weeks old.
A taxidermist is preserving We's body, which should be back on
display within a week, Sonnenschein said.
The World Aquarium, located inside the downtown City Museum,
acquired We in 1999. Last year the aquarium tried to auction off
the rare reptile to raise money for research and conservation
programs, asking $150,000, but none of the bids was satisfactory.
The snake had both male and female genitalia, Sonnenschein said.
The World Aquarium tried unsuccessfully to breed We with another
two-headed snake last year, and had planned to try again this
summer, aquarium spokesman David Isserman said.
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