Orange Co man bitten by cobra charged with illegal animal ownership

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Man bitten by cobra charged
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Ali Iyoob

CHAPEL HILL (WTVD) -- Authorities in Orange County have charged 21-year-old Ali Iyoob - who was bitten by a King Cobra in his home earlier this month - with seven counts of illegal animal ownership.

Court documents list two counts of venomous reptile ownership, two counts of crocodilian ownership, two counts of large constricting snakes ownership, and one count of keeping wild and dangerous animals.

Iyoob tried to drive himself to the emergency room after he was bitten by the snake May 2.

Iyoob made it about six miles down Highway 54 before pulling to the side of the road and telling a 911 dispatcher he was having trouble seeing and felt "nauseous." EMS picked him up and rushed him to the Intensive Care Unit at UNC Hospitals.

King Cobra antivenin was flown in from the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, S.C., to treat Iyoob where he was listed in critical condition for days.

Iyoob is a former UNC biology major who works with Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas and has a clear passion for snakes.

After he was bitten, expert snake handlers spent six hours in his home identifying and removing 60 animals.

In addition to the King Cobra, a search warrant lists a cottonmouth, puff adder, Egyptian Cobra, Sharknose Viper, Lancehead Viper, 2 Zebra Spitting Cobras, Gavan Spitting Cobra, Banded Egyptian Cobra, 2 rattlesnakes, Whitetail Lancehead, Fer de Lance, Tree Viper, and 2 Monocled Cobras - in addition to many non-venomous snakes and other animals.

It's against an Orange County ordinance to keep venomous snakes. Officials said some snakes were un-permitted native wildlife species and others were in violation of a state statute that specifies the safe-keeping of venomous reptiles.

The venomous snakes were taken to a holding facility outside Orange County arranged by the Museum of Natural Sciences and the constrictor snakes are at the NC Zoological Park.

Iyoob posted a message of gratitude to a Facebook group that organized an auction to help cover his medical bills. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $10,000 toward his expenses.

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