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THE AVRI SERPENTARIUM IN SRI LANKA

The first step to producing quality antivenom is to have venom, properly collected, from the species of snakes that you want to raise antibodies against. To obtain venom, of course, you must have snakes- live snakes, and in good quantity. In order to ensure a ready supply of venom, the animals must be kept healthy, well hydrated, and under humane conditions. Therefore, the first major important task for the Sri Lanka Antivenom Project was to build a serpentarium in Sri Lanka and field collect the snake species identified as necessary for the antivenom.

Antivenom begins with the venom, if something goes wrong from this fundamental point, every consecutive step will be useless. AVRI wanted to start off right, with a high quality, world-class serpentarium. After consultation with our advisors, construction was started on a 1,000 square foot facility on land donated for use in Dambulla, Sri Lanka. Dambulla is a centrally located town, a convenient spot to access most of the country from. All of the funds put into building the serpentarium came from private donations from individuals. It took a lot of networking and convincing, but we finally raised the amount necessary. Construction of the serpentarium started in March of 2011 and the building project was completed by October 2011.

The construction of this building has been a major accomplishment on many fronts. It stands as a testament to all the effort and dedication exerted by our members and supporters. For those in question of our abilities, it has forced them to take notice and realize that our project is serious and our intentions are to take it to the next level. Furthermore, it gives assurance to future donors that we have a permanent presence in the world. The broader scientific community on snakebite and toxicology is aware of AVRI and watching our progress.


AVRI Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Serpentarium

In February 2012, the AVRI team went on a training mission to the serpentarium with advisors from Kentucky Reptile Zoo in the United States. The crew brought all the equipment necessary to functionally open the facility and start venom collection. Our team was given support and instruction on husbandry and venom extraction. During this trip we successfully extracted our first venom samples, transferred them to the University of Peradeniya and lyophilized the samples. The process was completed until enough venom was collected to send to our partners at Instituto Clodomiro Picado of the University of Costa Rica. Clodomiro Picado will develop a trial batch of antivenom for use in Sri Lanka.

COMPETENCIES
Community Building
Communication
Diversity
ARTIFACTS
Construction
Serpentarium Floor Plan
Support, Collaboration & Permission
Field Collection of the Snakes
Animal Husbandry & Staff Training
Venom Extraction
 
KNOWLEDGE BASE
EVALUATION
REFLECTION