Working with wild animals in a zoo or aquarium setting has always been my dream job. There is, however, also an element of danger to it. Large carnivores, such as big cats, bear, and crocodilians, pose the most obvious hazard, but danger can come from other quarters as well. Large herbivores can be equally dangerous with their horns and hooves and sheer size. Birds can be surprisingly fierce, as anyone who has ever had to run for their life from a cassowary can attest. I've never trusted primates at all.
And then there are the hots.
Within the animal care community, both professionals and amateur pet owners, "hot" is slang for "venomous", and "hots" are the venomous snakes, spiders, scorpions and other toxic species. They pose a unique danger to their caretakers, often because, unlike lions and gorillas, their keepers work with them directly, with no protective barriers. The powers of their venoms vary considerably. Some species are technically venomous but pose no real safety risk to humans. Others are unquestionably lethal.
This month, we'll be exploring the world of venomous and poisonous animals and how keepers care for them in a zoo setting. Enjoy!