Laser surgery on an 8-foot boa constrictor's throat cancer turned a small university clinic into a media zoo.

The 12-minute operation Thursday drew cameras and reporters from four television stations, an independent network and assorted newspapers to the Beckman Laser Institute at the University of California, Irvine.The patient was Sid Vicious, a snake named after the late rock 'n' roll star and owned by Mission Viejo High School.

The press presence was so great that a pool arrangement more common to courtrooms and battleships had to be set up for television.

Just before the surgery, Dr. Scott Weldy, a veterinarian, held up the sleepy-looking boa and said: "He's beginning to look a little stupid now." The photo opportunity set lights flashing and cameras whirring.

The specialists took Sid into the operating room and stretched him out on the table. A TV reporter's crew failed to capture the scene on videotape.

"Why aren't we getting this?" yelled the reporter, demanding that the entry scene be repeated. Sid was taken off the operating table, hauled back out, then made another entrance.

Camera flashes continued as a red laser beam shot into Sid's mouth.

"I think the camera flashes are bothering his eyes," Weldy said. Cotton was taped over the snake's eyes and the laser therapy continued, ultimately to be declared a success.