Snake Expert Killed by Snake While Helping People With Fear of Snakes

A snake expert who dedicated his life to helping people overcome their fear of snakes died this week after being bitten by a viper during a snake demonstration.

Dieter Zorn, 53, had been visiting villages in the south of France, hosting "reptile shows" in an effort to help people who suffer from ophidiophobia deal with their fear by interacting with snakes.

"The public (under no obligation), can get up close to different inoffensive snakes," Zorn wrote in the description of his show posted on his website. "Touching and holding, stroking, and carrying these harmless snakes is, for most people, unique and unforgettable. This experience helps us to get over unfounded fears, and eliminate prejudices."

The German-born herpetologist was in the middle of a reptile show in the French commune of Faugères, when he was suddenly attacked by the aspic viper he was handling.

Emergency services soon arrived on the scene and attempted to counteract the effects of the snake's venom with a blood thinner, but it was too late.

Zorn's official cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest.

Uschi Kallus, Zorn's reptile show partner, claimed he suffered from an "extremely rare allergic reaction" to the viper's bites, and "would not have wanted the viper to be blamed for his death."

[photo via The Local]