A Canadian man bitten by a venomous viper while vacationing in Costa Rica was saved by antivenin from Seattle s Woodland Park Zoo.

The Zoo said Friday that 61-year-old Michael Lovatt from Roberts Creek, B.C., didn t know the snake that bit him was a viper. When he returned to Vancouver Monday, he went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He also was bleeding and had swelling from his foot to his mid-thigh.

A medical team worked around the clock to figure out what type of snake bit the man. The symptoms pointed to a Fer-de-lance Bothrops asper, native to Central and South America, which is known to cause death in humans.

Doctors contacted Woodland Park Zoo and Harborview Medical Center Tuesday. Twenty vials of antivenin, kept by the zoo for emergencies for a Mexican species of pit vipers, were airlifted to Vancouver.

The man s condition improved within minutes of receiving the antivenin and his condition stabilized within six hours. Without the work of the doctors and the zoo, medical experts said the man would have died.

Receiving the call for help was quite a harrowing experience, said zoo curator Mark Myers in a statement. I was relieved to hear that he improved within minutes and that we played a life-saving role.

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