Thursday, December 30, 2010

Miami's "Snake Man" is 100 years old today

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!


  1. Amazing. I remember well the Miami Serpentarium on South Dixie Highway, I think about 112th Street. We used to go there regularly when I was a boy about 50 years ago. I believe that the giant cobra sculpture which used to grace the entrance still exists and is at South Miami High on Miller road.

  2. Great piece of, thankfully, living history. The Miami Serpentarium used to be on US1 between SW 128th street and 124th street and a strip mall with an office building sits on the former location. The big cobra sculpture entrance haunted many kid's dreams until it closed in 1984.


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