Tough Episode For Wildlife Wrangler Puig
From The Miami Herald
Well-known South Florida wildlife wrangler Manny Puig was seriously injured while handling a venomous Western diamondback rattlesnake during a September taping of his Outdoor Channel television show Savage Wild.
Puig, 55, spent several days in a hospital receiving anti-venom and then had the middle finger of his left hand amputated last month after being bitten by the six-foot rattler in southern Texas.
``I thought I was going to die,'' Puig said in a telephone interview last week. ``I felt like a gallon of venom went through my body. The pain is horrific. It's like somebody's burning you and hitting you with a hammer at the same time.''
Puig said he went to pick up the snake in his left hand to hold it up for the cameras, talk about it, and let it go when its head slipped out of his hand and it bit him at the base of his finger. He does not blame the snake for defending itself.
``Nobody told me to do it; it is what I chose to do. I got bit. You deal with it,'' Puig said. ``People need to take responsibility for their own actions. The only thing that bothers me is little kids come up to me and they think I'm indestructible.''
Puig said he expects the snakebite episode to air sometime this spring.
The Cuba-born outdoors television star has been hurt before while handling alligators, sharks and other large animals, but never so seriously. These days, he's keeping busy rehabilitating his hand, trying to regain strength and flexibility. He plans to continue his on-camera animal-wrangling exploits -- but no longer with venomous snakes.
``It's like working with a little stick of dynamite -- easy to work, but very deadly,'' he said.
Puig also has been tapped by The Outdoor Channel to launch a safety-and-awareness campaign on snakebite prevention and response.
Some tips from Puig: ``If you go in the woods, wear snake boots. If someone wants to catch a snake, use a hook and a bag. Be aware that if you get bit, you could die or get amputated. And be careful where you put your hands and feet.''