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The Historic Brownsville Museum Collection, no. 6 - The Snake King of Brownsville

The Historic Brownsville Museum

Silent | c. 1914

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  •  Rattlesnake catching 
  •  Putting rattlesnakes into a box 
  •  Releasing rattlesnakes into arena with 'Snake King' 
  •  Horse formation exhibition 
  •  Rattlesnake catching 
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This footage of the Snake King was compiled from several decomposed reels of nitrate film. Featured are W.A. King "The Snake King of Brownsville" and his wife participating in a rattlesnake catching contest held at Fort Brown during Brownsville's Annual Mid-Winter Fair of 1914. The Snake King and his wife won the contest in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Of course one participant had to withdraw after being bitten, while another chickened out after seeing the bite. W.A. King moved to Brownsville at the turn of the century after working with snake exhibits in circuses and fairs. While working with snakes, he discovered that these exhibitors had a real need for some type of wild animal supplier. Since he needed a tropical climate to raise reptiles and wild animals, King settled in Brownsville, where he developed Snakeville to collect and raise wild animals and earned the name "The Snake King of Brownsville." In later years, The Snake King began training his animals, and his son, Manuel, gained notoriety as the World's Youngest Wild Animal Trainer. Special thanks to the Library of Congress Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.