Authorities have charged an Orange County man who was bitten by a king cobra earlier this month with several violations of state and local animal laws.
Ali Iyoob, 21, faces misdemeanor charges of breaking state laws that require owners to house reptiles in a sturdy, secure enclosure with a visible label, and that regulate the ownership of venomous and constricting snakes, Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto said.
Punishment for Class 2 misdemeanors can include a fine of up to $1,000 for each conviction.
Orange County authorities charged Iyoob with a Class 3 misdemeanor for violating local rules that prohibit keeping reptiles except for research. The local offense is punishable by fine up to $500.
Iyoob will answer the charges in Orange County District Court, Marotto said. The hearings have not been scheduled.
Authorities removed 34 snakes – 18 of which were venomous – and dozens of other animals May 4 from Iyoob’s home on N.C. 54, about 10 miles west of Carrboro.
Iyoob called 911 as he drove himself to the hospital May 2 to report he’d been bitten, was having blurry vision and was “sweating like crazy.”
An ambulance picked him up on the side of the highway and rushed him to UNC Hospitals. Antivenin for the cobra bite, which can be fatal, was arrived by plane early the next morning from a South Carolina zoo.
Iyoob has been released from the hospital and is recovering, Marotto said. A gofundme page started by Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas has raised $10,095 toward his legal and medical bills.
Marotto said authorities waited until Iyoob was feeling better to charge him.
“I have seen him. He’s up and about,” Marotto said. “It’s a terrible situation when someone’s life is at risk, as I understand his was.”
It was important to follow through on the violations, Marotto said, because of the risk those animals could pose to the public and pets. It’s also important to reinforce why people aren’t allowed to keep those animals, he said.
The venomous and constrictor snakes were turned over to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the N.C. Zoological Park. Each will choose how to dispose of the snakes in its possession after getting court authorization, Marotto said. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will decide what happens to the illegally possessed native snakes, which it now holds, he said.
A fourth group of reptiles, which Iyoob legally owned, went to a caretaker while he was hospitalized, Marotto said. Iyoob can recover them by paying a fee of $10 per day for each animal’s care, he said, but Iyoob has not indicated whether he will do that.
A dog, cat, fishes and fowl seized from the home after the incident have been returned, Marotto said.