Popular Indonesian singer Irma Bule died after being bitten by a cobra who was being used as a prop during one of her performances.
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 her. 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. The fate of the snake remains unknown.
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 Irma Bule shows the singer as she drapes live snakes around her shoulders and interacts 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 humans and the animals. There is nothing glamorous about showbiz for snakes and other animals, who belong in their natural habitats, not on a stage where they’re subjected to the stress of bright lights and screaming fans. When Bule stepped on this cobra’s tail, the animal acted instinctively to protect him- or herself. 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 a 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 if you’re looking for something fun to do, go to a non-animal circus.