The reptile house had been closed to the public and kept quiet with lights out since the deadly snake slithered out of its enclosure six days ago, the New York Daily News reported. Zoo workers surveyed the reptile house three times a day.
The cobra was discovered coiled in a corner at about 9 a.m. and quickly returned to captivity with handling tongs. Officials said the snake would be kept under observation to make sure it suffered no ill effects.
While late-night comics speculated about the cobra's doings and someone set up a Twitter feed in which the snake described its travels around New York, Jim Breheny, the zoo director, insisted there was little risk to the public. He said the snake almost certainly stayed close to home.
"We knew it was going to be a game of patience. We set the place up to make it easier to search," Breheny said after the capture. "We wanted to just let her feel comfortable. We did everything we could to help her feel secure."
The zoo said security in the reptile house enclosures is being examined.