Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute

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Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, the Thai Red Cross Society
Afternoon educational snake show, a popular tourist draw

Coordinates: 13°43′56.34″N 100°31′57.72″E / 13.7323167°N 100.5327000°E / 13.7323167; 100.5327000

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute (QSMI) (Thai: สถานเสาวภา Sathan Saovabha) in Bangkok, Thailand, is a famous institute that specialises in the husbandry of venomous snakes, the extraction and research of snake venom. It also houses the snake farm, a popular tourist attraction.

The origins of the institute can be traced back to 1912 when King Rama VI granted permission for a government institute to manufacture and distribute rabies vaccine upon the suggestion of Prince Damrong, whose daughter, Princess Banlusirisarn, had died from rabies infection. It was officially opened on 26 October 1913 in the Luang Building on Bamrung Muang Road as the Pastura Institute after Louis Pasteur, who discovered the first vaccine against rabies. In 1917 it was renamed the Pasteur Institute and placed under the supervision of the Thai Red Cross Society. The institute also produced vaccine against smallpox.

In the early 1920s the king offered his private property for the construction of a new home for the institute on Rama IV Road. The new buildings were officially opened on 7 December 1922, now named for the king's mother, Queen Saovabha. At the same time, the institute's first director, Dr. Leopold Robert, requested contributions from foreigners living in Thailand for the establishment of a snake farm, which would enable the institute to manufacture antivenom for snake bites. Reportedly the second snake farm in the world after one in São Paulo, Brazil, it was opened on 22 November 1923 by Queen Savang Vadhana, then President of the Thai Red Cross, on the institute's premises.

The research into snake venom is highly important, since many people fall victim to venomous snake bites. Normally only an antidote that is based from the same snake's venom can save the individual's life.

Containing thousands of some of the most venomous snakes in the world, such as the king cobra and all sorts of vipers, the snake farm is a highlight for any tourist visit. There are daily shows where handlers play around with pythons, and extractions of venom can also be witnessed. There is also a museum, and lectures are given.

The QSMI and the snake farm are located near Chulalongkorn Hospital, on the corner of Henri Dunant Road and Rama IV Road.

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