Euthanized snakes from La Follette pastor given new purpose

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Andrew Hamblin, an East Tennessee Pastor who supposedly preaches and uses snakes in church, was keeping illegal snakes. After searching his home and church agents found 53 illegal snakes.

Officers seized and charged him with possession of Class I wildlife (wildlife inherently dangerous to humans.)

The snakes were taken to the Knoxville Zoo while Hamblin's case went before the Grand Jury. In the end, Hamblin was not indicted on any charges ruling that there was no probable cause or evidence that a crime was committed.

However, the snakes all had to be euthanized because they were in such poor health explained Michael Ogle, Curator of Herpetology at the Knoxville Zoo "They were never given a water bowl, humidity, heat and never offered food."

They were frozen and kept as evidence for Hamblin's case but when charges were dropped the Knoxville Zoo needed to find a place for the snakes.

The Zoo contacted Dr. Steven Wallace from East Tennessee State University's Paleontology program to see if he could use them for research.

"We have a very extensive graduate program and our focus is Paleontology which is the study of fossil records but if you're going to have fossils you have to have a modern collection to compare them to." said Dr. Steven Wallace.

A special addition to their collection that they don't get every often.

Dr. Wallace said "It's not easy to get venomous snakes. We typically will get your standard garden snake that someone has killed in their backyard or run over by a car so it's always good to get something different."

The snakes will be a vital asset in the classroom as students will have the chance to dissect and learn more about the soft tissues of each snake.

An educational purpose that will help with research projects and studies for years.


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