Near the Zoo’s Snakes, a Hospital’s Collection of Medicine

September 17, 2012

The Bronx Zoo and New York City's Jacobi Medical Center work together to treat snake bite victims. Although physicians at Jacobi administer antivenin to those bitten by poisonous snakes, the Bronx Zoo possesses 14 types of antivenin, which it can supply to Jacobi and other institutions on a moment's notice.

In 1980, the Bronx Zoo began discussing snake bite treatment with Jacobi Medical Center in New York City. At the time, the institutions sought to anticipate scenarios in which zoo staffers fell victim to snake bites, but the program expanded, and Jacobi now boasts one of the country's best snakebite treatment centers.

Most hospitals are not licensed to stock exotic-snake antivenin, which is where the Bronx Zoo comes in. Although snakes from the zoo are not used to cultivate antivenin, the Bronx Zoo possesses 14 types of the biological product used to diffuse venom. Dan Boyer, the zoo's curator of reptiles, says the zoo provides "broad coverage for venomous snake bites from around the world."

Although Jacobi only treats a few victims each year, both timber rattlesnakes and copperheads are indigenous to the New York City area. Bites can cause severe injury or death if antivenin is not swiftly administered.

To continue reading about our life-saving partnership with Jacobi, visit the New York Times City Room blog.

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