EXCLUSIVE: Pictures reveal extent of damage from blaze at National Reptile Zoo
THE National Reptile Zoo reopened its doors this week after a fire at the hugely popular county Kilkenny attraction resulted in the death of a snake and wiped out the country’s entire anti-venom stocks.
As our picture below shows, the venomous section of the zoo in Gowran was gutted in the blaze, which broke out at around 9.30am on Saturday.
The zoo’s founder and director, James Hennessy, bravely managed to get all the other snakes to safety with the help of the Fire Service.
James told KilkennyNow.ie: “When the fire service arrived, I went in with them, with breathing apparatus, to remove the venomous snakes so there was no risk to the fire fighters. They did an amazing job of containing the fire almost immediately.”
However, his entire stock of anti-venom medicine, worth over €5,000, went up in smoke, leaving a major strain on the zoo’s finances.
It was also the only stock of anti-venom medicine in the country, which means the zoo will have to airlift fresh supplies from the UK or France if somebody in Ireland is bitten by a snake.
James added: “This is the only stock in Ireland. I have close links with the National Poison Centre and have made the stock available to them, along with the medical management bite protocols for emergency services, should a member of the public get bitten by a venomous snake anywhere in the country.
“Venomous snakes are kept as pets in Ireland. There has also been a number of occasions where venomous snakes have come into the country accidentally among shipments of other products such as fruit from tropical countries. In one incident a horn nosed pit viper was found in a crate of tiles that was shipped from Turkey to Kerry a few years ago, which was discovered by a young boy.”
James said that, as a conservation-based organisation, any money the zoo has to put towards replenishing the anti-venom stocks will directly impact on the conservation work that they do.
In an attempt to raise money, the National Reptile Zoo has set up a GoFundMe page to try and offset some of the cost of the blaze.
If you would like to make a donation, simply follow this link to the page: gf.me/u/r2qdcu
PHOTOS: (Main) A Cobra that survived the blaze. (Bottom) Fire tenders at the scene.