Popular Indonesian singer Irma Bule reportedly died 45 minutes after being bitten by a cobra during one of her performances. The animal was being used as a prop in her show.
A witness told news site Merdeka that Bule stepped on the cobra’s tail during the second song of her set, prompting the snake to attack. Disturbing footage taken by a concertgoer shows that the snake latched onto Bule’s thigh and that a man worked to remove the animal. In the video, you can see several snakes being carried around onstage.
The 29-year-old singer reportedly resumed her show but started vomiting and collapsed 45 minutes after the bite. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was later confirmed dead.
This wasn’t the first time Bule had performed with live snakes. Reports indicate that the singer was known for using cobras, pythons, and other snakes as props during her shows. She would often drape them around her shoulders as she sang to noisy crowds, no doubt a very traumatic experience for these reptiles.
*This video of a different performance by Bule shows that the singer would drape live snakes around her shoulders and interact with crowds with no barrier between the audience and the animals.
When living beings such as snakes are used as props, it can end in disaster for both the humans and the animals. There is nothing glamorous about showbiz for snakes and other animals who belong in their natural homes, not under the stress of bright lights and screaming fans. When Bule stepped on this cobra’s tail, the animal acted defensively. No amount of training can stop an animal from behaving instinctively, and trainers and handlers cannot protect themselves or the public from an angry or terrified animal.
What You Can Do
Don’t support any shows, circuses, or zoos that profit from live animals. Avoid any place that charges for photo ops with animals. If you want to observe animals, consider visiting or volunteering at an accredited sanctuary or go to non-animal circuses.