Monday, January 3, 2011

Bill Haast turns 100

Video by VideoSOLUTIONSMedia

UPDATED @ 3:00pm, June 17, 2011: Mr. Haast died on June 15, 2011. I've added the few details that I know on my main blog, Random Pixels. I'll add more there as I learn more.
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.

Bill Haast turned 100 on Dec.30 2010.

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. It's a shame more has not been done to chronicle the life of Bill Haast, one of the true pioneers in venom research. Not enough can be said about the risks and contributions he has endured and provided in the field. Bill Haast, a truly great American.

  2. I have been lucky enough to have personally known bill haast and his family in the 1960's .I was friend with his daughter Chantay and would play at the serpentarium (which drove my mother nuts)with all of the non piosonous critters!Those days in my life will never be forgotten and i am happy to have known and grown up with such a fantastic man. Wishing the family well. Anne "Corwith" joy

  3. As a true native of Miami in the 60's I spent many a weekend as a child watching Bill Haast milk the giant golden king cobra on stage in front of amazed onlookers.He was and always will be an important part of my childhood. I owe nearly everything I know about reptiles to him and feel lucky to have enjoyed the Miami Serpentarium.Mr. Haast, thank you for all you have taught me,you are truly an American Legend. Ken Wilkerson, Miami Fla.

    1. Ken Wilkerson wouldn't know a snake if it bit him!

  4. I grew up in south florida in the 1960's and 70's and have such great memories of visiting the Miami Serpentarium with my family, my whole family loved it and we made sure we attended on Sunday, as that was the day he would milk the huge king cobra, i remember the sign Mr. Haas had on his stage saying"nothing is more exciting than watching danger from a safe distance" the whole Haas family were charming and what fun we had! and it was always a treat when Mr. Haas would answer questions after the show, he was a very gentle well mannered good looking man.Being able to view so many unusual exotic snakes up close was fantastic and he would free- handle each one, i've been fascinated by venomous snakes ever since. Thanks Mr. Haas , kim butler


Feel free to comment on anything you read here.

However, all comments must first be approved.

Please note that spam and spam links will not be tolerated or approved.