Serpentarium’s Hasst, 100, Has Died

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 18th, 2011

Cobra sculpture at the Miami Serpentarium entrance. Shown here in 1954, the Serpentarium operated beginning in 1947.

Does injecting snake venom make you live longer? Don’t ask those who knew Bill Haast that question.

Florida snake expert Bill Haast has died. He was 100.  His wife Nancy says Haast died Wednesday evening, June 15, 2011.

Haast remained director of Miami Serpentarium Laboratories near Punta Gorda until his death. The original Miami Serpentarium, located south of Miami, was in operation from 1947 to 1984. The attraction had a gift shop, 400-pound turtles, a 20-foot-long python. It also had a pit with a 12-foot-long crocodile called “Cookie” that weighed, literally, a ton. Tragically, a 6-year-old boy fell in and died in 1977. Haast went to the pit with a pistol the very next day and shot the croc.

Guests would pay admission to watch Haast extract venom from snakes. Haast, a pioneer in extracting large quantities of venom for research, began the practice when he was a boy.

Haast moved to Utah in 1984 but returned to Florida six years later. That’s when he opened the new Punta Gorda facility, which continues to produce snake venom for medical and research use.

Soon after opening the Serpentarium, Haast began injecting himself with different types of cobra venom in order to develop immunity. It was 2006 and he was still extolling the virtues of venom, saying he injected himself weekly with a cocktail from five snakes – cobras, cottonmouths, kraits, mambas and rattlers – homeopathy the Food and Drug Administration would never endorse.

Read more here.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

4 Responses to “Serpentarium’s Hasst, 100, Has Died”

  1. flame821 responds:

    He might have been onto something. Hemotoxins thin the blood, its the same principle behind the use of a daily aspirin. Never catch me taking his route though.

    I like snakes but I’m not too keen on poison, however I understand his reasonings seeing as how he risked being bitten on a daily basis.

    Tip of the hat to a pioneer in anti-venom research, may he rest in peace.

  2. Redrose999 responds:

    Bill Haast was an amazing man. His work with snakes was invaluable to venom research. I am sorry to hear he’s gone. But he lived to a ripe old age of 100! What an achievement!

  3. TimmyRyan65 responds:

    Good story!! This article reminds me of that early 70’s movie Sssssss! Starring Strother Martin and a very young Dirk Benedict. It was about a guy (Strother) much like the one in this article who ejected himself with venom, ran a snake park and did venom experiments. He injects his assistant (Dirk) with a secret serum that transforms him into a super intelligent cobra. As lame as this plot sounds it was a very creepy movie. I just bought a copy of it as part of a 4pack for only $5. It still surprisingly holds up!

  4. Opalman responds:

    At one time I had an extensive collection of snakes (80 species-12 -14 of them very “hot” snakes.) Bill was a friend of mine and his Serpentarium is in a hard to find area of Punta Gorda, only 9 or so miles from me. He was a very nice man. I hadn’t talked to him in several years, I didn’t even know of his illness, (if he had one). For his age he was undoubtedly the healthiest person I’ve ever known. Several years ago he related the effects of a Sri Lankan krait:(Bungarus fasciatus) envenomation to me as a “not altogether unpleasant” almost psychedelic experience. (to me it sounded like a mescaline trip) As many know; (and so stated above) he regularly self-administered injected doses of a specific venom mixture cocktail which over the years caused his immune system to develop polyvalent immunity to a wide variety of elipids. Of the genera Crotalus he was extremely careful.

    Bill: you were a terrific guy, many will miss ya.

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