Florida Sites We Have Seen
In the seventies and living in South Florida my wife and myself took a trip to the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories. There Bill Haast had a place like a mini zoo plus an area where he milked venomous snakes. He did this in front of you. I mean virtually in front of you. The table he placed the snakes on was only a few feet away from where you stood. There were no glass or other barriers in front of you to protect your person. He milked some of the most venomous snakes in the world. Kraits, rattlesnakes and the like. He used the venom for research and sent it to many facilities around the world.
He, himself, had suffered many snake bites. He survived because in his system was a mixture of a serum that he had created of antitoxins that counteracted the bites. In fact if a person was bitten by a venomous snake in Florida Haast headed to the hospital to give his blood as an antitoxin against their bite.
One of the most amazing things we have ever viewed was the milking of the King Cobra. He did this on Sunday. The above picture shows that the audience was only a few yards away. I believe the snake was a twenty three foot animal. First Haast force feed the snake and then he milked it. He was incredible. He had survived numerous bites and on a few occasions almost died. He was in the Guinness Book of World Records for surviving the most deadly snake bites.
He did not do this just for fun. He was a serious herpetologist who used the serums he collected for research by himself and facilities around the world. He was dedicated to his cause.
Also at his location were other animals. In sunken pits were alligators and crocs. In cages some other birds and animals. I was not there when the event occurred which closed the place down. But I read about it. A women, who had her purse dangling down as she sat on the wall of one of the pits was dragged down by an alligator who jumped up and snatched it. She fell into the pit where the animal chomped down on her. Haast ran, got a gun, killed the animal and tried in vain to rescue her. She later died and the litigation and law suits closed the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories, Haast went elsewhere to continue his work but it was not open to the public. He died in 2011. I urge you to go to his website to see more pictures and read more about this unique individual.
Imagine going to work and the day is spent milking snakes who with one bite can send you to the hospital and maybe even the morgue.