March, 2007 Meeting: Jim Harrison / Kristen Wiley, Venom Extraction
|Date:||March 7, 2007|
|Location:||Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods, directions|
We are pleased to announce that the April Speaker will Be Jim Harrison and Kristen Wiley, of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo. Jim and Kristen are a long-time members of the GCHS, and has provided countless educational programs, and tours for us through the years. They have also been seen many times on national television on shows such as National Geographic?s Snake Wranglers.
On March 7, 2007, Jim and Kristen will talk will discuss venom extraction. The Kentucky Reptile is one of the best equipped centers for extracting from venomous snakes in the country. The venoms provided by the zoo are being used by universities and other institutions to conduct important research, including searching for cures for many diseases including AIDS, Parkinson?s disease, and various forms of cancer. Although it is a rewarding occupation, it is also a risky one and one that is not as lucrative as one may think. Come to the talk to get a better understanding of just how important the venoms are, how they are being used, and just what is involved in becoming a successful ?venom extractor?
MEET THE SPEAKERS:
(From The Kentucky Reptile Zoo?s website: Kentucky Reptile Zoo)
Jim and Kristen are owners / operators of Kentucky Reptile zoo. In addition to providing venoms used in scientific research, they operate a reptile zoo for the education and entertainment of the public. Additionally, they perform hundreds of educational outreach programs with reptiles.
For anyone who has ever spent some time talking with or listening to one of Jim or Kristen?s programs, you would know that they have many unique and almost unbelievable stories to tell. Jim has been titled an international adventurer, man with no fingers (he is missing some parts of his fingers due to both man and snake), snake man, and many more. His lifestyle is one that not many people could handle, or may not even want to attempt, because his life is put on the line each time he takes out a venomous snake for extraction. But Jim has chosen this life for a very honorable reason: to help people. If the venom he provides will one day save someone's life, or cure a disease, or even elongate a person's time on earth, Jim says what he does is worth it. He just so happens to love working with these animals as well.
Jim was born in Wilmington, Ohio and moved around a lot as a child. Jim caught his first snake at age six. At twelve years old Jim caught his first rattlesnake, and by 17 was starting to extract venom from king cobras. That same year Jim took a summer job at an alligator farm in Florida where he began to wrestle alligators. Mr. Harrison has been extracting venom from snakes for 25 years now. A career path such as this does not come without sacrifices, though: Jim has been envenomated 14 times, and has actually died three times, twice from envenomation and once from being run over with a stolen car. Mr. Harrison has probably handled many 100's of thousands of snakes throughout his life, so 14 mistakes is not a bad track record.
Despite not having a degree, Jim Harrison is acclaimed as an expert in his field and has many accomplishments to note. In 1995, Mr. Harrison was the only non-doctor invited to the 1st International Congress on Envenomations and Stings in Paris, France. He attended this function as well as gave a poster presentation. Jim attended and presented a paper at the International Herpetological Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio in June of 1998. Jim has testified as an expert witness in several court cases involving identification of various snakes and treatments of their envenomations. Mr. Harrison has also contributed to the herpetological field through publication.
1. Harrison, James. 1996. Notes on the husbandry and captive breeding of cape coral snakes (Aspidilaps lubricus lubricus). Advances in Herpetoculture, 135-137.
2. Harrison, James. 1992. Envenomation by a desert horned viper, Cerastes cerastes: a case study. Contributions in Herpetology, 15 -17.
As the director of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, Jim Harrison keeps a very busy schedule. A typical day includes a few hours of cleaning exhibits or feeding out rodents, and extracting venom from 20-50 snakes a day. Jim also finds time to fit in some weight-lifting or running to keep up with his workout regime. Jim and the KRZ staff also spend a lot of time traveling to different programs and meetings in and around the state of Kentucky.
If you ever have an opportunity to meet or speak with Mr. Harrison, I would encourage you to take advantage of his willingness to share his vast reptilian knowledge and spend a few minutes talking with an expert in the field of herpetology.
For Hours, Directions, and other details about the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, see: Kentucky Reptile Zoo)