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Posted by tedn on February 26, 2003 at 20:08:37:
Every Sunday at the Miami Serpentarium Bill Haast extracted venom from the King Cobra. These were awsome snakes often in the fourteen or fifteen foot range. Bill would do a "show" every couple of hours for the tourists. Using a hook, Bill would pull the largest of poisonous snake from its cage and deposit it on the lawn. The most courageous of the tourists would stay to watch and I with a pit in my stomach also managed to be present. I never got used to Bill handling these snakes. The King could deliver as much as one hundred and twenty drops of its potent venom in one bite! Enough to kill as many people. Haast was the only person that had ever survived a bite from this snake...and even though he has a partial immunity to the cobra venom, the Kings bite made him very sick and could have killed him.
When the snake felt the grass its first instinct was to take off but Bill would grab the tail and immediately the snake would come back at him, rearing its head up three feet off the ground and hooding up menacingly! Haast, keeping cool, would distract the snake with a movement of his hand and the snake, mouth open, would watch waiting for the opportunity to strike. Haast kneeling and continuing to move one hand to attract the attention of the snake would attempt to grab the snakes neck with his other hand. Often the snake would feint a strike and immediately turn and take a shot at Haasts other hand. Face to face this would go on for several minutes before Haast would finally manage to get the best of the situation and catch the snake. It was truly an amazinging show. Haast would then allow the cobra to bite a rubber membrane stretched across a glass container and we would all see the tremendous amount of venom the snake could produce.