Instituto Butantan (a.k.a. the Snake Farm) described in Coffee Crash is a real biological research facility in São Paulo, Brazil. Among its many public health functions, the institute breeds snakes, spiders, and other poisonous critters in order to produce anti-venoms.

Although I didn't mention this in the book, a portion of the institute suffered a major fire in May 2010. Until that time, the institute had housed a collection of more than 80,000 preserved (dead) snake specimens, as well as nearly half a million preserved spiders and scorpions. The fire destroyed the entire collection, fueled by the highly flammable formaldehyde and ethanol used for specimen preservation. The fire also destroyed the institute's main research library, including its books. Fortunately, no people or living creatures were harmed in the fire, but the Snake Farm may never fully recover the  research potential of its collection lost in the fire.

More information on Instituto Butantan is available at http://www.butantan.gov.br/home/ (currently in Portuguese only).



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