Schwarzenegger Pal Critical After Rattlesnake Bite

A bodybuilding pal of Arnold Schwarzenegger has been left fighting for his life after he was bitten by a deadly snake that he had been illegally smuggled into the country.

Christian Janatsch’s rags to riches story like that of Schwarzenegger has been an inspiration to many athletes, after he started life as a sickly schoolboy unable even to take part in gym classes.

But after starting to take karate classes, he quickly became fit and eventually, as well as becoming a black belt, he also started winning martial arts competitions.

He was a regular at the local gym in order to get the fitness he needed for his martial arts, and from there also became a successful bodybuilder winning the Mr Austria title in 1979 and later spending 3 years living in America.

Credit: CEN
Schwarzenegger’s friend Christian Janatsch who was bitten by snake, while he was young

His former girlfriends include legendary female bodybuilder Rachel McLish, and he has remained good friends with Schwarzenegger since getting the Mr Austria title from the former Californian governor in 1979.

His good looks also landed him numerous photo opportunities, and he was a regularly in magazines. Along with his career as a sportsman he also studied zoology, and later headed an animal welfare organisation and kept reptiles, which fascinated him.

These included mostly harmless local snakes, but police have discovered he also had at least one illegal and highly venomous rattlesnake which he had only recently acquired from a buyer in Brno in the Czech Republic.

After purchasing it, the 69-year-old had taken it to the family home in Klosterneuberg where he lived with his sons Gabriel and Helmut and his wife Nina.

Although regarded as an expert in handling reptiles including snakes, police said that something went wrong and he ended up being bitten. Realising he was in serious trouble, he managed to call his wife who called the emergency services shortly before he collapsed.

He was rushed to the hospital in nearby Vienna where medics gave him 16 vials of anti-venom, and since then he has remained in intensive care where he is fighting for his life. Medics said that a single vial costs 2,500 EUR (2,173 GBP) and 6 of them had to be specially flown in from Zurich as there was not enough at the local hospital.

Animal expert Georg Jachan said: “The antivenom is extremely expensive and in addition can only be kept for a short amount of time, which further raises the price.”

Credit: CEN
Illustrative image of snake after Christian Janatsch has been fighting for his life in the intensive care unit of a Viennese hospital after being bitten

Police investigating the incident say that the snake, which was moved to a zoo after the bite and is now in Croatia where the bodybuilder was supposed to be delivering it, was being illegally moved.

The transport of such venomous reptiles needs to be registered, as well as keeping them, according to Austrian law, and if he recovers he could face legal consequences.

The local government vet confirmed that they did not tolerate in any form the private ownership of venomous reptiles, with the local governor confirming even tougher rules after the near fatal bite.

He remains in intensive care where medics say it is only because of his extremely good health, which includes the fact that he was a regular at the gym despite his age, that had kept him alive.


To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Michael LeidigSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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