Python goes missing from Norman zoo twice 

It's not every day that a 12-foot albino Burmese Python goes missing, and then is returned. Twice.

That's just what happened to just such a snake named "Merlin," according to reports.

Merlin's tale has many twists, turns and convolutions, and in keeping with his namesake, has quite a disappearing act. And though he was a dream to some, he was a nightmare to others.

According to one story in The Norman Transcript, Merlin first went missing from the Little River Zoo near Norman in late September along with an African Sulcata tortoise named "Metort."

Zoo officials, frantic, put out an all-points bulletin for, well, a giant albino Burmese python and a giant African tortoise.

Alas, the distinctive description proved of little avail.

Soon afterward, a man and his girlfriend showed up at the zoo, asking for tips on how to care for your typical giant pythons and giant tortoises, according to the story. Well, the perceptive zoo officials thought something was a bit fishy and called police, according to The Transcript, who went to their Norman home.

Apparently, however, someone figured out how to feed Merlin all on their own. Authorities arrived in time to find a kitten in the cage with the python, but it died. Vets, according to the story, were not able to save it. No name was given for the poor, little, big-eyed, fluffy mammal.

Cody Daniel Hawkins, 24, was charged with knowingly concealing stolen property, cruelty to animals (for the kitten) and possession of a controlled dangerous drug " the last part was because the drug Ecstacy allegedly showed up in his pocket during a search, according to The Associated Press.

But wait, that's not all! Merlin went disappearing again (poof!) a few days later, according to The Transcript. Officials again put out an all-points bulletin for a giant albino Burmese python.

Zoo director Janet Schmid warned that Merlin could be dangerous to, um, infants (!) "¦ children (!) "¦ pets (perhaps kittens?) "¦ and even adults, a story in The Oklahoman reported.

Other than that, Schmid attested to Merlin's finer qualities.

"He's a really, really nice snake," Schmid told The Oke. "But he's hungry, and when hungry he could be dangerous."

A few days later, on Oct. 7, somebody dropped Merlin off at the front gate, tied in a small red nylon bag, and called zoo officials, according to The Transcript.

"Merlin was crammed into the bag like a sardine. We don't know if he's eaten anything " he was pretty cold and stressed," she told the Norman paper.

Schmid last reported that Merlin "looks fine and has no marks." She allowed as how he'll be back on his usual diet of warmed-over dead rats.

Who took him? According to The Oke, zoo officials ascribe the theft to "inside knowledge," but have no further leads at this time.

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