By Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
St. Louis' acclaimed albino, two-headed black rat snake has affirmed its celebrity status. In We's 7-year lifetime, the hermaphrodite snake has been bought and sold, decorated, displayed, abducted, rescued and returned, primed for breeding, put up for bidding and even considered for the Guinness Book of World Records.
Now, We, who has lived at the World Aquarium at the City Museum since infancy, has begun a career in marketing. "I think We is probably the most famous snake on the planet," said Leonard Sonnenschein, president of the World Aquarium.
We has been adopted by Florida-based biopharmaceutical company Nutra Pharma as its mascot and brand icon. The company uses snake venom to develop scientific treatments for HIV-AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other neurological and muscular diseases.
The World Aquarium has signed a six-month, $15,000 sponsorship deal with the company. The money will be used to support conservation and other programs and to sponsor an environmental concert series, scheduled for next summer in Liberty, N.Y.
The aquarium acquired the snake in 1999 for $15,000. The snake was stolen and then recovered in 2004. In January, the World Aquarium put We up for sale in hopes of raising $150,000. But We lured no bidders. And this summer, We mated with another two-headed albino black rat snake named "Golden Girls." No word yet if a pregnancy resulted. Asked whether We is satisfied with the sponsorship deal, Sonnenschein joked, "We is getting extra mice now."