THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Snakes need not be feared, insisted Vava Suresh gripping a cobra that had its hood raised. He was at the City Zoo on Wednesday to clear away the myths and misconceptions surrounding snakes.
However sincerely he campaigned for the snakes, at first, small children seated in the front row had their hands clasped together in fear. The grown-ups around them were no better. They gasped when the cobra menacingly moved towards Suresh. The snake expert, however, diverted its attention to his microphone. When it had its back to him, he planted a kiss on its hood.
The cobra in his hand slowly turned its head sideways, as if looking at the crowd around it. “Snakes are nearly blind,” Suresh continued, “they have no hearing and olfactory senses either. They are harmless. They don’t bite anyone out of vengeance. Don’t kill them.”
He was seeking a paradigm shift in our attitude towards snakes. He said: “The snake’s venom is protein. So is egg white. Injecting both into our bloodstream is fatal. Consuming them is not. The venom is medicinal and is used to treat skin diseases and cancer.”
Taking out two or three Trinket snakes, he said: “Often mistaken to be Shanghuvarayan (Common Krait), these are non-venomous and belong to the family of rat snakes.” They seemed sociable, twining around Suresh’s arms and necks. We would think they were his pets. He quickly added, “We (he and the snakes) are not friends. The snakes that are rescued are not kept at my home for more than five days. They are released into the wild.”
At the beginning of the session, few believed Suresh, when he extolled the virtues of snakes. But as the session progressed, many came forward to touch and hold snakes. R Philomina, who works as a cleaner in the zoo, felt that touching a snake would cure her of the morbid fear for them. Suresh placed a Trinket snake in her hand and said, “Gently, don’t hurt them.”
Many of the visitors had come to the zoo hoping for a view of the anacondas. They were told that the South American snakes are still cooling off their travel stress inside a secret enclosure in the zoo. But those who could attend Suresh’s session didn’t go home disappointed.
Here’s a valuable piece of advice from Suresh. “If at all you are bitten by a snake, do not be afraid. Fear causes variations in blood pressure, which might lead to a heart attack. Immediately visit a hospital, but do not panic,” said the expert who was bitten 269 times and was in a critical condition over 80 times.