Bill Haast reciving his daily “cobra cocktail” injection

I covered Bill Haast for a Nokia-based website, WAVE, years ago, and wrote about 90-yr-old herpetologist Bill Haast, who ran the Miami Serpetarium. He had been collecting snakes since he was a kid, but while abroad serving in WWII, he brought some exotic ones back and thus began his lifelong passion. He was bitten 158 times by some of the deadliest snakes, including cobras and the blue krait – but because he had been injecting himself with a “cobra cocktail,” which were several cobra venoms, he had built up a resistance to their bites. He was the only person whose blood could be used as an antidote to snake bites, and saved a few lives that way.

He died recently, and I miss him; he was an extraordinary character, with a fearlessness that was contagious and inspiring. At 90+ to see him open a “cobra condo” as he called them, and without gloves or tools or anything would simply reach over and grab the cobra by its throat – then milk it. He sold the venom to pharmaceutical companies which then processed them into various medications.


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