Friday, June 17, 2011

Miami "snake man" Bill Haast dead at 100

UPDATED @ 7:00pm:
Miami Herald has posted a story that says Haast died of "natural causes."
Random Pixels has learned that Miami's legendary "snake man," Bill Haast, has died. Haast died at his home in Punta Gorda on Wednesday. He celebrated his 100th birthday last December.

I'm re-posting below, my original tribute to Haast, written on Dec 30, 2010 when he turned 100.

from the Miami News, Aug. 23, 1964

Ten years ago, Miami herpetologist Joe Wasilewski was working with a documentary film crew on a piece about 90 year-old Bill Haast, the legendary former owner of Miami Serpentarium.
Wasilewski recalls that a member of the crew asked Haast - who has been bitten by poisonous snakes at least 173 times - if he thought that snake venom prolonged life. "Ask me when I'm 100," Haast replied dryly.

Ten years later Bill Haast is alive and well and living in Punta Gorda, FL where he runs Miami Serpentarium Laboratories.

Today is his 100th birthday.

In Aug. 2006, when Haast was 95, Miami Herald reporter Luisa Yanez wrote that the "Miami Snakeman" was still injecting himself with snake venom. Yanez quoted Haast as saying: ''I could become a poster boy for the benefits of venom. If I live to be 100 I'll really make the point.''

Over the years, Miami newspapers have chronicled Haast's frequent brushes with death.

In Feb. 1949, the Miami Daily News reported that Haast, then 38, had been bitten by a Mexican water moccasin.

In Feb. 1961, after Haast was bitten for the 67th time, he told the Miami News: "Let's hope it was the last."

It wasn't.

In Sept. 1970, Haast was bitten - number 112 - by a Malayan pit viper.

Happy birthday Mr. Haast!

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