Nuclear Town Zoo Celebrates ‘Year of the Snake’

TOMSK, December 31 (RIA Novosti) – A zoo in the closed nuclear town of Seversk, near Tomsk in Siberia, is marking the New Year by unveiling the latest additions to its reptile exhibit, four strikingly colored snakes.

According to the Chinese horoscope, 2013 is the year of the black water snake.

“Seversk Zoo will unveil the latest inhabitants of its reptile and amphibian section, these strikingly colored young snakes. First there are two color variations of the Honduran milk snake – albino and tangerine. And second, two color variations of the queen python – bumblebee and pastel,” the zoo statement says.

The zoo confirmed that these colorings are the result of selective breeding, and are not found in the wild. The snakes will be on show to visitors in 2013, once they are older and stronger.

However, as a closed nuclear town, access to Seversk for foreigners and Russians alike is restricted. Foreigners require approval from Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) to enter the town, and the application process takes about 45 days, according to information on the town’s website.

Formerly known as Tomsk-7, Seversk is home to the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC), one of the world’s leading nuclear centers.

The SCC was founded in 1949, according to the International Science and Technology Center site, to “eliminate the US monopoly in nuclear armaments,” but no weapons-grade plutonium has been produced at Seversk since Rosatom closed the last plutonium-producing reactor in 2008.

Seversk remains at the forefront of Russia’s nuclear power industry. In late September 2012 the Tomsk Region and Rosatom signed an agreement on developing an experimental lead-cooled nuclear reactor at the SCC under the Federal Program for Advanced Nuclear Technologies 2010-2020.

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