Snake Man Bill Haast Has Died

Bill Haast, a pioneering snake expert, died this past week at the age of 100. He was director of the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories, where he extracted venom from the world's most poisonous snakes for use in medical research. Guest host Jacki Lyden has a remembrance.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

And now, a remembrance. Bill Haast, a pioneering snake expert, died this past week. The self-proclaimed Snakeman was director of the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories, where he extracted venom from the world's most poisonous snakes for use in medical research. Haast believed he handled more than 3 million snakes during his career.

WEEKEND EDITION profiled him back in 1999.

Mr. BILL HAAST (Late Snake Expert): See how close you can get to it? Now he's on the alert. You want me to hold that down there?

LYDEN: He told us that he had built up an immunity to the snake bites by injecting himself with a mix of cobra venom. He said he wasn't sure if that venom cocktail contributed to his good health and vitality.

MR. HAAST: I have no proof, but I'm active from morning 'til night, seven days a week. So when I'm 100, if I'm doing just what I'm doing now, then I'll say, yes, it's the venom.

LYDEN: It must have been. Bill Haast died of natural causes at the age of 100.

(Soundbite of music)

LYDEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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