Attitude & Outlook


Green Mamba
Photo of green mamba taken by Bill Haast on an expedition to Africa

Besides being philosophically insightful while quite young, Bill was also very intuitive; he knew that the enormous destructive power of venom must also have a potential for good, not unlike the other great natural forces of fire and lightening, wind and water which, when out of control become destructive, but when controlled are of great import. And he knew, in the way that visionaries just know the truth about things, that the potential for good that snake venoms had would be in their ability to heal and in that knowing, it would become his destiny someday to prove it.

Attitude, rather than disposition is more definitive of serpent behavior. From the moment they emerge into this world until they complete their life cycle, their attitude is...

Don't tread on me; I am well equipped to defend myself, but content to pass through life unnoticed. I mean no harm to anything or anyone that our creator has not provided as my bill of fare, I am self-sustaining and I like it that way, please pass me by.

Bill Haast

Founding Director Miami Serpentarium Laboratories

While in New Jersey he became a gunsmith, helped his father repair trucks at the local quarry, worked manual labor on road repair, and often got into trouble with his fellow laborers for working too hard and too long. If he was given a stretch of road to repair, he challenged himself to see how fast and how far he could go, being meticulous in his approach and quality of work. He didn't mean for his hard work to be a reflection on anyone else, it was just that every single thing he ever did was a personal challenge, and that curiosity to test the limits of his abilities and boundless energy would drive him to to do amazing things. He simply couldn't do a task in any way but his utmost personal best. Hardship was not something to be avoided; it was a challenge to be overcome. Bill's work results were always, whether laying a roadbed, catching a king cobra or drafting one of his inventions, completed with precision, polished by perfection and carried out with finesse, elegance, and often, speed. True to his surname, it was his way.

Bill hand-carved the stock and butt from birdseye maple
Bill hand carved the stock and forestock from birdseye maple

He married, moved to Florida and returned, had a son, and determined that if he could ever get back to Florida he would find a way to make a living with his snakes. Although it took those few tries, and worked for a time in New Jersey as an engine tester with Wright Aeronautical, in Miami with a bootlegger, as a cashier in a chophouse during prohibition, and eventually flight engineer with the Air Transport Command when Pan Am was commissioned to carry troops and supplies to Africa, Asia and South America during WW II, he finally bought a three acre tract of uncleared land on U.S. 1 in south Miami in 1945 and set about to fulfill his destiny. The Miami Serpentarium was born.

Bill Haast

An interesting account of the early and mid-years of Bill Haast and the Miami Serpentarium can be found in the biography by Harry Kursh, entitiled Cobras In His Garden, no longer in publication but still to be found in some libraries and for sale occasionally on the internet.

Another book about his life, authored by Nancy Haast, is in progress.