A man bitten by a cobra called 911 and calmly told dispatchers that he was going to an Orange County hospital in North Carolina for treatment. The bite from the king cobra caused the man to suffer blurry vision and he was “sweating like crazy.”
“I just got bit by a king cobra and I’m on my way to the hospital,” Ali Iyoob told the dispatcher in a 911 call, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Iyoob was bitten in his home by a snake he owned, he told dispatchers.
The man bitten by the cobra was in the hospital’s intensive care unit. A friend said Iyoob was recovering from surgery and breathing with the help of a ventilator. He is in critical condition.
“I’m trying to get to the hospital as fast as I can,” Iyoob said on the 911 call. Eventually, Iyoob pulled his car over and waited for emergency personnel to arrive.
Iyoob’s friend, Jennifer Marshburn, said that anti-venom for the snake bite was delivered from a zoo in Columbia, SC at 1 a.m. Tuesday.
On a Facebook page with Iyoob’s photos and personal information, Iyoob says he works as a beekeeper and studied biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. According to a commencement program from May 2015, Iyoob graduated from the biology department.
Michael John, spokesperson for UNC, said the Iyoob did not graduate from the school. John explained that it’s possible that Iyoob’s name appeared in the commencement program because he was able to participate in the ceremony but not eligible to receive a degree because he did not pass all classes, WBTW reported.
“The vast majority of students in the commencement program graduate, because you need to be eligible to graduate to be listed, but since grading and graduation are so close together, that’s not always the case,” John said.
The man bitten by the cobra has numerous photos posted on his Facebook page of animals, including snakes, and it reads, “I go to work and play with bees and then come home and play with snakes.”
Friends defend man bitten by cobra: "He's extremely experienced and this is just an unfortunate freak accident." pic.twitter.com/U0DekfEYfy
— Arielle Clay (@AClayNews) May 3, 2016
Marshburn said that Iyoob is a responsible pet owner who ensures his snakes are locked up and has worked with animals for most of his life.
“Ali is the type of person who would make sure the cobra was locked up securely before seeking help for his bite,” Marshburn said. “He is a responsible keeper and extremely respected by others in the reptile community worldwide. He dedicates his life to these animals and is not just ‘some guy with a pet cobra’.”
Orange County Animal Services officials said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference that the man bitten by the cobra kept more than 20 snakes, some of which were venomous and two that were constrictive, in his home.
“They need to be removed from the county in order to assure the safety of people who reside here,” said Orange County Animal Sercives Director Bob Marotto.
Orange County Animal Services officials said in a statement they are working with the sheriff’s office and other agencies to determine whether or not Iyoob violated a North Carolina General Statute by keeping snakes in his home.
“It’s not lawful to have those animals in our jurisdiction,” said Marotto.
The News & Observer said that if the man bitten by the cobra violated the law, Orange County officials will coordinate to identify, seize and care for the reptiles. Officials said they believe the animals in Iyoob’s possession were kept in secure enclosures, and officials said there is no threat to the public, although it’s unclear where the animals were or who was caring for them Tuesday afternoon.