As animal control workers catalogued and removed 34 snakes and dozens of other animals on Wednesday from the home of Ali Iyoob, the man bitten by his pet king cobra, reptile enthusiasts planned fund-raisers to help with expected medical and legal bills.
Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas, posted a link to a gofundme page asking for contributions to defray some of the expected expenses.
“If you know Ali Iyoob, a recent student of the biology department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when you hear his name the first thing you think of is a passion for reptiles,” the gofundme page creator wrote. “Ali’s life is devoted to the study, photography, and protection of all wildlife, but if you know him, you know that snakes have a special place in his heart. He loves education and outreach and enjoys nothing more than sharing his love and passion of animals with others.”
Iyoob, 21, was in UNC Hospitals, after making a harrowing 911 call late Monday night.
“I just got bit by a king cobra and I’m on my way to the hospital,” Iyoob told the Orange County emergency dispatcher.
Iyoob, who lived nearly 10 miles west of Carrboro off N.C. 54, pulled over a few miles away from the hospital, sweating profusely, sick to his stomach, his vision blurred and drifting into a coma from the venom coursing through his body.
Iyoob was rushed to the hospital and put on a ventilator that would keep him alive until medical workers could round up antivenin to counteract the respiratory failure that can occur.
In South Carolina, Scott Pfaff, curator of herpetology at Riverbanks Zoo, got a call from Carolinas Poison Center workers in search of the very specific anti-venom needed to help with a king cobra bite.
Riverbanks, in Columbia, S.C., stocks dozens of different antivenin — to protect against everything from king cobra bites to strikes by eyelash vipers.
Pfaff filled a cooler with 11 ampules, 10 milliliters each, and rushed them early Tuesday morning to a plane waiting at a nearby airport to ferry the antidote back to Chapel Hill.
Late Wednesday, Iyoob remained in critical condition at the hospital.
Grover Barfield, a Gaston County resident with the Carolinas Reptile Rescue and Education Center, said he knew Iyoob, but mostly from Facebook messages. Just from reading about him, Barfield said Iyoob sounded as though he was familiar with venomous snakes, but had no idea what might have happened. He worries, though, that publicity surrounding Iyoob’s bite might give reptile enthusiasts “a bad name.”
“Many of the folks that had negative comments were talking about things that they know little or nothing about and I suspect hate snakes,” Barfield said. “Several said that they should all be killed. That shows me that they do not understand the ecosystem and what part snakes play in it.”
Iyoob, whose family used to run a Quizno’s in downtown Raleigh, lived in western Orange County in a brick house.
At 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, animal control officers, deputies from the Orange County sheriff’s department and wildlife experts began the process of identifying and safely removing the animals from Iyoob’s home.
A dog and cat were removed first and taken to the Animal Services Center shortly after noon.
In all 60 animals were removed from the house over a six-hour span.
Of the 34 snakes found in the home, 18 were venomous. Also in the house were a caiman, two turtles, five chickens, eight chicks, four quail and four fish.
The constrictor snakes will be held at the NC Zoological Park. Native reptiles will be held under the jurisdiction of the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission. The remaining animals will be taken to Animal Services until a determination for disposition can be determined by the court, Orange County officials said.
Though investigators have considered possible charges, a release from the county late Wednesday said it was uncertain whether Iyoob would be charged.