By Gareth Shoulder @garethshoulder

IF YOU’VE been bitten by a venomous snake, chances are this man helped make the vaccine that saved your life

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Videographer / director: Tom Sparks
Producer: Gareth Shoulder, Ruby Coote
Editor: Ian Phillips

 

On a daily basis Dan Rumsey, 31, extracts highly toxic raw venom from some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, getting them to bite down on a vile while they inject their venom into it.

It’s sent off to a specialist lab where it is used to manufacture anti-venom medicine that saves hundreds of lives around Australia every year.

The zookeeper, from Sydney, Australia, admits his love of reptiles started at a very young age and cites legendary conservationist Steve Irwin as one of his early inspirations.

Dan told Barcroft TV: “My passion for reptiles started when I got my first pet reptile, which was a little blue tongue skink.

“I had him for about 20 years and then I became obsessed with seeing reptiles out in the wild, so I started keeping a few at home.

“As a kid I grew up in the Steve Irwin era, everyone wanted to be him and of course I did as well.

“I followed in my biggest heroes’ footsteps, working at a park, every single day with reptiles.”

Dan is Head Zookeeper at the Australian Reptile Park, a position he’s held for 3 years.

Where Dan works, he is frequently surrounded by highly toxic snakes - three rooms at the park house over 200 of the most venomous snakes in the world!

He said: “If I was to be bitten by one of these snakes, I would have to seek immediate medical attention, it could potentially be life threatening.

“I’d hate for someone to have to call my mum and say, ‘Dan’s in hospital he’s been bitten by a snake’.

“Whenever you’re working with these highly venomous snakes the most important thing is to stay extremely focused.

“If you stay on the path and follow your training and the skills you do have, then you won’t get bitten.”

He says the best part of his job is allowing members of the public to learn about these interesting creatures.

Dan told Barcroft TV: “I’m very lucky to work within a unique role where I get to work with animals every single day.

“I get to share that passion with everyday people who don’t get those opportunities.”

Dan’s passion for reptiles extends out of office hours, regularly going on trips with his friend Jake Meney, who also works at the reptile park, to look for rare species of snakes.

Jake told Barcroft TV: “We can spend weeks searching for reptiles. Recently Dan, myself and a few other guys at the Park went up into the Northern Territories.

“We were looking for a very rare snake specie, one of the largest snakes in Australia – they can get up to five metres plus.

“Fairy-tale ending, on the last night we saw the snake. That level of excitement was like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.”

Dan champions the importance of active, outcome-based conservation work, seeing it as his way of giving back to animals that have given him so much over the years.

Sharing the wildlife that he works with, children in particular, is important to Dan as he believes they are the future of conservation.