Keeper at UK safari park airlifted to hospital after venomous snake bite

Ruth Doherty
Keeper at UK zoo airlifted to hospital after venomous snake bite
Keeper at UK zoo airlifted to hospital after venomous snake bite

Stock photo, king cobra: PA

A snake handler at a UK safari park had to be airlifted to hospital after being bitten by a venomous king cobra.

Mark O'Shea is reported to be in a "stable condition" after the bite on Sunday afternoon at the West Midlands Safari Park.

The park's director, Bob Lawrence, said Mr O'Shea was bitten as he tried to feed the snake called Sleeping Beauty, who has lived at the park for 10 years.

He said that although king cobras are one of the most poisonous snakes - their venom can kill animals up to the size of an elephant - Mr O'Shea only received a "minor nip".

Mr O'Shea has presented a host of TV programmes about reptiles, as well as writing a number of books.

Mr Lawrence said the safari park, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, stored anti-venom for all of its poisonous animals and commonly rehearsed such situations with local hospitals.

He told the BBC: "It is very, very rare that these things ever happen.

"Working with animals like this always carries hazards with it, but we have safety measures in place."

He added: "You can't blame the snake for what happened - it's not its fault."

A full investigation will be carried out into the incident, and Mr Lawrence said he hoped Mr O'Shea would leave hospital within the next day.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Ambulance Service told the BBC: "Due to the fact the venom can be lethal if it enters the bloodstream, the man was airlifted to hospital as a precaution."

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