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Saturday December 2, 2006

Snake king Ali Khan dies from cobra bite


TAIPING: Malaysia’s snake king Ali Khan Samsudin, 48, died as he had lived – handling the reptiles that he loved. 

His eldest son Amjad Khan, 21, said his father had been performing at a show in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday when he was bitten by a King Cobra. 

Ali Khan, who regularly performs with his beloved snakes for charity and for a living, died at 1am yesterday at Kuala Lumpur Hospital where he had been recuperating. 

Amjad Khan related that when his father contacted him on Tuesday to tell him he had been bitten, the family had not been too worried. 

DARING FEAT: Ali Khan receiving a ‘kiss’ from a cobra during a performance at a snake exhibition at the State Museum in Kota Baru in a May 14, 2000 file photo. — Bernamapic
“He had been bitten by snakes many times before, including three times by King Cobras. The first King Cobra bit him in Taiping when he was 21. 

“So we didn’t think anything would happen. I was just relaks saja (calm),” said Amjad Khan at their flat in Kampung Boyan here yesterday. 

On Thursday night, his condition took a turn for the worse. Family members here received a call from Amjad Khan’s uncle to go to the hospital. 

“We rushed from Taiping at 11.30pm, but by the time we arrived he was already gone. We didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye,” said the son. 

“Maybe his body couldn’t take it any more because of his diabetes.” 

He leaves behind five children aged 13 to 23 from wives Mau Boh Bee, 48, and Jumabee Mohd Ibrahim, 33. Amjad Khan, who also works as a snake handler, said he would continue his father’s work despite the tragedy. 

“Many of my father’s shows have been cancelled, but this is a trade that has been passed down for five generations,” he said, adding that his uncle Husein Dasthagir, 48, also worked with snakes. 

“It’s our way of life and we can’t imagine doing anything else.”  

Well known for his daring feats with cobras, Ali Khan had also made it into the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records, living in a glass enclosure filled with more than 5,000 scorpions for 21 days. He set another record by living with 400 snakes for 40 days.  

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