A Historical Look At Why You Shouldn't Drunkenly Handle Snakes


According to his coworkers, Edward Horatio Girling did not have much experience handling snakes when he took a job as a zookeeper at the London Zoological Gardens in 1852—which might help explain his apparent ignorance about the effects of mixing alcohol and venomous snakes. Namely, a fatal bite.

Let's back up. According to a paper published several years ago in the journal Anaesthesia and Intensive Care (and quoted from here), Girling spent the night of October 19, 1852 celebrating a boozy goodbye to a friend leaving for Australia:

Together with Edward Stewart, a temporary employee of the zoo, they stayed up all night, having three pints of beer at the friend’s house before moving to a pub in Shoe Lane where they drank quarters of gin until eight in the morning. From there it was straight to work where Edward Stewart, presumably still inebriated from the night before, was occupied in the relative safety of the hummingbird enclosure.

Unfortunately, Girling didn't work with hummingbirds—he worked with serpents. Stewart found his friend gallivanting about the reptile house with the not-super-deadly Morocco Snake in his hands.

Despite the protests of his friend, he draped this snake around the unfortunate Stewart, crying “I am inspired!” His friend bent down, protesting that the snake would bite him at any moment. Girling relented and put the snake back where it belonged.

But the dangerous revelry didn't end there. Stewart had returned to the hummingbirds when he heard Girling cry "Now for the cobra!" Back at the reptile house, Stewart watched helplessly as Girling put the cobra into his waistcoat. From there, the snake coiled around the inebriated man's body and when Girling tried to grab a hold of him, the snake bit him five times on the nose.

Girling was rushed to the nearby University College Hospital, but by the time he got there, his head had swollen and his face had turned black. Thirty-five minutes after arriving, the zookeeper was declared dead. And although the doctors were able to study the infected blood for the sake of medical improvement, let this stand as an important warning: Never handle cobras while intoxicated.

[h/t History Weird]

Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]


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