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The Unconventional Life of India's Snake Man
World-renowned herpetologist Romulus Whitaker has spent the past six decades devoted to reptile research and rain forest conservation.
With his shoulder-length white hair, perpetual tan, and soft-spoken demeanor, it would be easy to dismiss Romulus Whitaker as an aging disciple of Jimmy Buffett or the Grateful Dead.
But at 73, Whitaker is anything but the easygoing beach bum type.
“People often mistake me for a rabid hippie conservationist,’’ says Whitaker, a world-renowned herpetologist. “But I’d like to be remembered as the reptile freak.”
Whitaker’s fascination with snakes began in upstate New York, where he caught his first one as a four-year-old and then quickly amassed a collection—an obsession that grew into a lifetime pursuit following his family's move to India in the 1950s. There he’s affectionately known as "the Snake Man of India," the founder of the Chennai Snake Park, and