Special Report filed by AAF Correspondent: Herb Gillen

      N.Y. man, bitten by pet viper, fights for life

May 18, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 18 (Reuters) - A man who kept a menagerie of dangerous reptiles as pets, including an 8-foot (3-metre) alligator that had the run of the house, was in critical condition on Thursday after being bitten by his viper.

Anthony Cavallaro called for an ambulance late Wednesday night after he was bitten by his West African gaboon viper (bitis gabonica), a native of central and southern Africa with one of the world's deadliest venoms.

Cavallaro's prognosis is ``not good,'' according to relatives.

``The ambulance crew got there, saw his collection of dangerous snakes and that he was bitten by one, and called the police for help,'' said Lt. Larry Bachre of the Buffalo Police Department.

Relatives said the hospital obtained antivenin from the Bronx Zoo in New York City, but they are not sure if it arrived in time to counteract the powerful neurotoxic effects of the viper's bite.

In addition to the viper, Cavallaro kept a cobra, a rattle snake and a four-year-old, 200-pound (90 kg) alligator he named ``Albert'' that he let roam freely in his home, officials said.

Cavallaro had permits for all of the animals, which will remain in the house for now because the Buffalo Zoo did not have any antivenin, if needed, City Animal Shelter spokesman Frank Poincelot said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited.

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