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How one man survived a deadly king cobra bite and debunked 185 years of science

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Animal Enigmas

For 185 years, science has assumed there was only one species of king cobra. Herpetologist Gowri Shankar shares his near-death experience that led to a groundbreaking discovery for the snake world.

About Gowri Shankar

Herpelotogist and conservationist Gowri Shankar is co-founder of the Kalinga Foundation Trust and the Kalinga Centre for Rainforest Ecology, two environmental education and research organizations in Karnataka, India. His work focuses on the conservation of the Western Ghats with a specific focus on reptiles, particularly king cobras.

This segment of TED Radio Hour was produced by Fiona Geiran and edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Manoush Zomorodi
Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Fiona Geiran
Sanaz Meshkinpour