The founder of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo was hospitalized after being bitten by a rattlesnake.
Jim Harrison, director of the Powell County facility, was extracting venom from a South American snake on Friday when it broke a restraining tube and bit his left wrist.
"Those guys have a big fat body and a little tiny head," said Kristen Wiley, the zoo's curator. "It actually thrashed around enough that it broke the tube."
Without quick treatment, Harrison could have died, she said.
"This particular kind of snake has a high neurotoxin in its venom," which caused Harrison, 56, to have difficulty breathing, Wiley said.
"He was in very bad shape," she said.
He was taken by ambulance to Clark Regional Medical Center, where he got a first dose of the anti-venom serum that the zoo keeps on hand for such instances, Wiley said. He was transferred to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition late Saturday afternoon.
Wiley said Harrison, who has been bitten nine times in more than 35 years of working with poisonous snakes, is expected to make a full recovery.
The snake that bit him is fine too, she said.
Wiley said the nonprofit zoo, which is in Slade, near Natural Bridge State Park, extracts the venom and sells it for cancer research as a means of supporting the facility.