He Trained Firemen to Catch Snakes. A Snake Killed Him

Malaysian 'Snake Whisperer' Abu Zarin Hussin dies just days after trying to catch a cobra
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2018 11:08 AM CDT

(Newser) – Just a few days after being bitten by a cobra, Malaysia's famous "Snake Whisperer" has died. The Star and Free Malaysia Today report that 33-year-old firefighter Abu Zarin Hussin was attacked by the snake earlier this week in Betong while trying to catch it, and he was rushed to two different hospitals over the past several days, finally succumbing to his injuries in the ICU of the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital on Friday. Hussin, who the BBC says kept four snakes at home, had become both a local and international celebrity for his snake-handling acumen, which he used to train fellow firefighters so that they could respond to calls about snake sightings. Under Hussin's tutelage, firefighters learned how to ID different types of snakes, with a particular eye for the poisonous ones, as well as the most humane ways to capture them.

Newsweek explains how Hussin shot to international fame in 2016 when overseas tabloids mistakenly used his picture for a story on a man who reportedly married his pet snake. An interview in the Star noted Hussin, who began his hobby in 2007, got his inspiration from his snake-charmer dad. "Before I joined the [fire department], I was afraid of snakes and would avoid them," he said. "But ... now [I] practice with [my father]." Hussin had been bitten a few times before, with one incident in 2015 even sending him into a two-day coma. But he couldn't stay away from the slithery reptiles, and he even took his act to Asia's Got Talent. A zookeeper tells the New Straits Times how, after he was bit by a snake in 2012, he met Hussin and struck up an instant friendship. "I have lost a daring and genuine friend," he says. (This man posed with a rattler, then got bit.)

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