20,000 lives saved thanks to the venom program at the Australian Reptile Park
Australian Reptile Park staff risk their lives every day to milk the snakes for their venom to be made into antivenom
The Australian Reptile Park are proudly celebrating the accomplishment of over 20,000 lives being saved thanks to their life saving antivenom program. The Central Coast wildlife sanctuary is the only facility in Australia that milks terrestrial snakes for the production of antivenom. In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, resulting in about 500 hospital admissions with over half requiring antivenom treatment.
The Australian Reptile Park has been involved in the production of antivenom since 1951 with staff still risking their lives daily to milk terrestrial snakes for their raw venom to be made into antivenom. 250 snakes are a part of the Park’s antivenom program and are milked on a fortnightly basis by dedicated staff. The venom keepers take on the difficult task of milking the snakes in a rotation, ensuring every drop is sent to Seqirus (formerly BioCSL) in Melbourne so that it can be produced into a functioning antivenom.
“We have people come in all the time to tell them we saved their life, or someone they know needed antivenom to survive. It makes what we do all worthwhile, I’ll never get sick of hearing it.”
Head of Reptiles, Daniel Rumsey says “To know that our program has saved over 20,000 lives is truly overwhelming and I’m so proud of my venom team. At the end of the day we’re all about the education. If at least once person leaves one of our reptile shows knowing exactly what to do if someone they know is bitten by a snake, they will know the appropriate first aid to save their life.”
Mr Rumsey continues, “We have people come in all the time to tell them we saved their life, or someone they know needed antivenom to survive. It makes what we do all worthwhile, I’ll never get sick of hearing it.”
Visitors to the Australian Reptile Park are able to see demonstrations of the milking process at the morning reptile show. During this demonstration, guests are also educated on first aid for venomous snakes and how to exercise snake safety if they come in proximity of venomous snakes.
Australia is home to some of the world’s most venomous snakes and the end goal for the Central Coast wildlife sanctuary, whilst continuing to help produce antivenom, to educate all Australians on the correct snake safety and first aid should someone be bitten.
Most snake bites are found to occur commonly due to someone attempting to pick one up, standing on one in the bush or even cornering one so that they feel threatened. Sadly, when people are not educated on the proper first aid, fatalities can occur.
Thankfully, when the correct first aid is provided and the victim is taken immediately to hospital, antivenom is given and survival is possible. The Australian Reptile Park features a separate venom room off display where various snake species are held for milking and are cared for meticulously to contribute to the venom program and ultimately saving lives.
The Australian Reptile Park is a hands-on wildlife sanctuary located in the natural bush setting of the Central Coast of NSW, only 60 minutes from Sydney or Newcastle. Enjoy live entertaining shows, themed exhibits and interaction with many of the wildlife sanctuaries residents. The Park is open daily from 9am-5pm, with complimentary parking and BBQ facilities. More information at www.reptilepark.com.au