Malaysia ‘snake whisperer’ dies after cobra bite

KUALA LUMPUR A Malaysian firefighter dubbed the "snake whisperer" died four days after he was bitten by a wild cobra while responding to a call to catch the aggressive reptile, an official said on Saturday.

The spitting cobra bit 33-year-old Abu Zarin Hussin last Monday in Pahang, where he subsequently succumbed to its venom in hospital on Friday.

The firefighter had gained celebrity status in Malaysia for his ability to closely handle deadly snakes.

He was pictured in photos and videos widely circulated online kissing king cobra snakes on the mouth, and appeared on TV show Asia's Got Talent last year rubbing his nose against a serpent's head.

Mr Khiruddin Drahman, director of Kuala Lumpur Fire and Rescue Department, said Mr Abu Zarin had responded to a call while off-duty.

"The snake he caught was a wild spitting cobra. A single bite can even kill an elephant," he said. "We lost a talented officer. It is a tragic event."

Firefighters are regularly sent to deal with venomous snakes in populated areas of Malaysia.

Mr Abu Zarin was renowned for teaching other junior officers how to catch the deadly reptiles.

He was buried in his hometown in Kelantan state.- AFP