NC ‘snake hunter’ who survived 12 venomous bites is killed - allegedly by his wife

A North Carolina man who claimed to be the world’s first “snake hunter for hire” – and the survivor of 12 venomous snake bites – met his demise over the weekend in the most unexpected of ways.

Dean Ripa’s wife reportedly shot and killed him, say police in Wilmington.

The Wilmington Star reports Regina Ripa, 40, shot her 60-year-old husband Saturday afternoon in an apartment over the couple’s so called “Serpentarium” in Wilmington. He died at the scene, according to media outlets.

Regina Ripa is charged with first-degree murder in what investigators say may have been a domestic-related homicide, reported WNCN.com. She was being held without bond Monday at the New Hanover County Detention Center, WNCN reported.

Dean Ripa’s biography refers to him as a “herpetological-wunderkind” who suffered his first deadly snake bite at age 13. He was in intensive care for two weeks.

“His adventures have taken him to five continents and more than 30 countries, and they have sometimes been harrowing,” says his biography on CapeFearSerpentarium.com.

“He has been wracked by malaria, schistosomiasis and dysentery, lost in Amazonian jungles, stranded in the New Guinea highlands, and held up at gun point during military coups in West Africa and Suriname. He has survived twelve venomous snakebites to date.”

Author William S. Burroughs reportedly described Ripa his book “The Western Lands” as someone who could have been a character in a Joseph Conrad novel.

Ripa earned his living as a “snake hunter for hire” for zoos, laboratories and private interests, before founding the Cape Fear Serpentarium in 2001, says his Web site.

The Serpentarium is a 10,000-square-foot structure that houses 150 animals, including 40 venomous species of snakes, 5 large bays featuring giant constrictors, and three habitats housing 3 species of crocodile.

Ripa claimed to be the first herpetologist in the world to watch venomous bushmasters mate....and was bitten by them at least seven times in his life.