A man in India once set a unique world record by staying in a cage for 72 hours with 72 of the country’s most venomous snakes.
Back in 1982, Neelim Kumar Khaire set the Guinness world record by staying in a glass box for three full days with 72 venomous snakes: 27 monocellate cobras, 24 russell’s vipers, 9 binocellate cobras, 8 banded kraits, and four common snakes. Khaire, who was 28 at the time, first became passionate about snakes while working as a receptionist at a five-star hotel near Bombay.
“Reptiles were frequent visitors at my place in Matheran,” Khaire remembered. “I hated killing such beautiful creatures – most of them were harmless. So I started catching and releasing them in the Sahyadri hills. I once caught a snake and took it to the Haffkin Institute in Bombay. I was told that it was poisonous and too risky to be carried in this way. The incident boosted my courage and so began my obsession with snakes.”
He added that he first got the idea to pull off this world record when he saw reports of Peter Snyemaris staying with 18 venomous and six semi-poisonous snakes in Johannesburg, South Africa, for 50 hours.
“I thought an Indian deserved to create a world record in this field as India is known abroad as a country of snakes,” Khaire explained.
Khaire spent 72 hours living in the glass box with the 72 venomous snakes at B.J. Medical College in Pune, India. He spent that time sitting on a chair, and while he had to deal with the snakes climbing on him, he did not have a single bite when he left the cage three days later.
“I will now be able to set up a trust-run snakes park and a research centre with the initial funds from the proceeds of the feat,” Khaire said upon leaving the cage. “I stalled my parents’ efforts to get me married till I fulfilled my ambition of creating a world record. Now I am ready.”
Sure enough, Khaire used the funds his stunt raised to launch The Katraj Snake Park that was later to be known as The Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park. To this day, the park is home to around 160 species of snakes and reptiles.