The frozen bodies of 53 venomous snakes confiscated from a Campbell County church last year will soon become part of a scientific collection at East Tennessee State University’s Natural History Museum in Gray.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the snakes’ frozen carcasses will be thawed out and skinned and researchers at the museum will compare their skeletons to those of prehistoric vipers in the museum’s collection.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers raided the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette last November, where the snakes were used in worship services. Pastor Andrew Hamblin, a star of the National Geographic Channel’s “Snake Salvation” reality show, was charged with violating Tennessee’s ban on snake-handling.
A grand jury exonerated Hamblin earlier this year.
After the raid, the snakes were taken to the Knoxville Zoo. Officials there say many of them were already dead when they arrived. Others died while in the zoo’s care or had to be euthanized because they were sick.