Zoo keeper reunites with King Cobra

Posted on August 24, 2012

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Ronald ‘Ron-Ron’ Aventurado stares at the King Cobra which almost cost him his life a week ago. (JUNJIE MENDOZA)

With a new lease on life, work must go on for zoo keeper Ronaldo “Ron-ron” Aventurado.

A day after he was released from the Cebu City Medical Center where he was treated for a near-fatal snake bite, he showed up at the Cebu City zoo to see the King Cobra that almost killed him last August 14.

Zoo visitors were excited to see Aventurado and asked him to pose for souvenir photos near the cobra, now placed in a glass enclosure.

Aventurado, who said his job in the zoo is “all-around”, said he prefers tending to snakes .

He was trying to catch the cobra with his bare hands last week when it suddenly appeared outside the main gate.

Cebu City zoo manager Giovanni Romarate, said the employee was officially due back at work on Monday yet.

He will not be assigned to handling animals this time and will be posted at the gate.

“It’s up to him if he’s ready for work, but for now, we wont let him do strenuous tasks,” says Romarate in Cebuano.

Aventurado started as a volunteer in 2000 before he was hired by the zoo.

It’s not clear how long the King Cobra will stay in the zoo. City Hall officials are liberating where to keep the venomous snake, which did not belong to the zoo’s collection of animals.

Romarate said the King Cobra may have escaped from its owner.

There are proposals to donate the snake to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila which has a cobra farm as part of its research and development of cobra snake bite antidote.

Wildlife expert Soham Mukherjee of the Humane Society International had suggested freeing the snake in the wild where it can feed on live snakes.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama disagrees with the proposal saying it poses a threat to public safety.

Mukherjee said the survival of Aventurado maybe important in developing a cobra venom antidote in the country.

The anti-venom shot used to treat the zoo keeper was actually an antidote for the venom of a Philippine Cobra, a different species.

Romarate is also recommending to city veterinarian Dr. Alice Utlang to send Aventurado undergo intensive training on wildlife handling and rescue in the government research facility.

Although Aventurado only finished first year high school, he plays an important role in the zoo.

Co-workers and the the zoo manager described Aventurado as “active and alert” in responding to animal rescue.

The zoo keeper is working to attain secondary level education through the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education. He will take the ALS exam this October.

Aventurado’s ordeal led to a mercy mission with a plane of Capt. Jessup Bahinting, which flew the life-saving venom antidote from Camiguin three days before Bahinting figured in a plane crash in Masbate.

Aventurado will join Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama in handing over the city government’s posthumous “Lifesaver” award for Bahinting on Saturday. /Tweeny M. Malinao, Correspondent

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