Venomous snakes Breeders
A fortnight ago in an interview with BBC Radio Nottingham, Mr Yeomans said that, if he were bitten and lay dying with his ‘life drifting away’, his final thought would be: ‘As far as my work with king cobras goes, it was worth it’.
It also emerged that exactly a year before his death on Wednesday, Mr Yeomans wrote an article published on his website explaining how to survive a cobra bite.
Mr Yeomans was dubbed the local Steve Irwin after the late Australian TV personality famous for taking risks with wildlife.
A source said it is estimated that Mr Yeomans died only six minutes after being bitten. Usually the venom can take up to 30 minutes to kill.
Victims feel faint, dizzy and sick after five to ten minutes, before paralysis grips the face and tongue, reaching the respiratory muscles and affecting ability to breathe.
Nottinghamshire Police said officers were called at around 2pm yesterday to a property in Eastwood but Mr Yeomans was pronounced dead at the scene.
His body was found in the compound where he kept the reptiles behind his house.
The snake was contained and the RSPCA, Health and Safety Executive and Broxtowe Borough Council were informed of the incident.
Several YouTube videos show Mr Yeomans handling snakes with his bare hands, and photographs show him kissing his cobras.
Yesterday an associate, a reptiles specialist who did not want to be named, said Mr Yeomans had a ‘cavalier’ attitude, adding: ‘If you handle snakes with your bare hands, over time they learn you are not a threat. It’s my understanding that Luke had recently received some new snakes. It could be that a new snake hadn’t recognised this approach, and that is what made it bite.’
Mr Yeomans’s wife and their only daughter Nicole, 23, a curator at the sanctuary, were ‘too distraught’ to comment at their farmhouse in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, yesterday.
Mr Yeomans was dubbed the local 'Steve Irwin' after the Australian wildlife presenter who was killed by a stingray. He kept 24 reptiles in a 'sanctuary' compound behind his house
The King Cobra is the longest of all venomous snakes in the world, with the venom from a single bite being enough to kill an elephant.
The conservationist started his King Cobra Sanctuary - which he claimed was the 'only one in the world'
In the local BBC television interview just days ago Mr Yeoman revealed his trust in his cobras and recalled previously being bitten.
He said: 'These king cobras know that I provide them with food, they know that I provide them with fresh water, so they are not going to go out of their way to do harm to me when I do no harm to them whatsoever.
'After being bitten once, on the way to the hospital I quite casually rang up the school of tropical medicine and spoke to the experts on anti venom, so when I got out of the car at the poisons unit I completely lost my legs, fell out of the car, but luckily there were two nurses waiting for me with the anti-venom, and they said don't worry.
'People do say that I'm mad, but it's better than people saying that you're bad, and I think everything I do is good.
'My life is about the conservation of the king cobra. Our breeding colony here is a safety net in case the king cobra becomes extinct.'
A local resident said: 'It's a complete shock. Everyone knew Luke kept cobras, but he so much experience we never expected anything like this to happen. He was a wonderful guy who was dedicated to snakes, and their welfare.'
Mr Yeomans started his King Cobra Sanctuary - which he claimed was the 'only one in the world' dedicated to the King Cobra - in 2008, in reaction to the depletion of the snake's natural habitat in the forests of south-east Asia and India.
Police seal off the entrance to the King Cobra Sanctuary in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, where Mr Yeomans died earlier this week
KING COBRAS: THE FACTS
The king cobra can reach 18ft in length and is the longest of all venomous snakes.
They can even stand up (right) - to the height of about a third of their bodylength - and still attack from that position.
When they bite the seven millilitres of venom released is enough to kill 20 people - or even an elephant.
They weigh around 20lb and live mainly in the rainforests and plains of India, southern China and South-East Asia.