The Serpentarium was an unusual tourist attraction
Date: 11/25/2013 Album ID: 1736014
Nothing says Old Florida like the snake shows at the Serpentarium on South Dixie Highway. The building was part of the attraction, with its 35-foot-high hooded concrete-and-stucco cobra with a forked tongue that towered over the building. And presiding over the green mambas, king cobras and palm vipers was the memorable Bill Haast, snake handler and scientist, who opened the place in 1948 and charmed up to 50,000 visitors a year until he closed the doors in 1984.
The Miami Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: September 4, 1977<br>Photographer: Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Kathi Currey, Serpentarium guide, feeds George the Aldabra tortoise. He eats anything that grows, she said.<br><br>Date Shot: September 26, 1973<br>Photographer: Tim Chapman/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Kathi Currey, Serpentarium guide, feeds George the Aldabra tortoise. He eats anything that grows, she said.<br><br>Date Shot: September 26, 1973<br>Photographer: Tim Chapman/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Snake pictured here is a boa constrictor, who is trying desperately to maintain a temperature equal to his native country.<br><br>Date Shot: March 29, 1955<br>Photographer: Bill Sanders/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Mother and child looking in crocodile pit at the Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: September 5, 1977<br>Photographer: Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
People looking at crocodile pit at the Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: September 5, 1977<br>Photographer: Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Miss Haast and Susan Bowling at the Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: September 4, 1977<br>Photographer: Joe Rimkus, Jr./Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Remaining crocodile at Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: January 1, 1977<br>Photographer: Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Right, Hogla Gonzalez and Ana Henly, both cheerleaders from South Miami High School, are dismayed after the Serpentarium cobra fell apart.<br><br>Date Shot: October 28, 1984<br>Photographer: Bruce Gilbert/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Fred Wilson of Miami Serpentarium holding boa constrictor he just removed from tree behind 2277 Sunset Dr., Sunset Islands.<br><br>Date Shot: October 21, 1971<br>Photographer: Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
People looking in crocodile pit at the Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: September 5, 1977<br>Photographer: Battle Vaughan/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Serpentarium owner Bill Haast is careful about all of his snakes -- even the gigantic king cobra that is getting a new gold skin from painter Harry Maucione high atop the laboratory and tourist attraction.<br><br>Date Shot: April 27, 1968<br>Photographer: Bob East/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Demolition begins at Miami Serpentarium.<br><br>Date Shot: October 21, 1984<br>Photographer: Rick McCawley/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
The Serpentarium cobra fell apart after being lifted from its base. The snake was to be moved to South Miami High School. The crane lifted the 35-foot stucco cobra Saturday. The cheerleaders and marching band of South Miami High, home of the Cobras, screamed and pounded their feet. Drivers passing the former site of the Miami Serpentarium on South Dixie Highway honked their horns and waved. The cobra dangled in mid-air for a few seconds. Then its head snapped off. The cobra was donated by Bill Haast, who closed the Serpentarium after operating it for 37 years. The huge serpent was to be moved to a corner of the high school football field.<br><br>Date Published: October 28, 1984<br>Photographer: Bruce Gilbert/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald
Bill Haast with diamondback rattler.<br><br>Date Shot: May 5, 1976<br>Photographer: Marlin Levison/Miami Herald Staff<br>Copyright: The Miami Herald