Could Florida's python problem fuel a fashion trend? - WFLA News Channel 8

Could Florida's python problem fuel a fashion trend?

Posted: Updated:
Could Florida's unwanted Burmese pythons fuel a fashion trend? Could Florida's unwanted Burmese pythons fuel a fashion trend?
Camille Zarsky wants to use the snakeskin for fashion accessories Camille Zarsky wants to use the snakeskin for fashion accessories
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Designer Camille Zarsky believes she has a way of taking one of Florida's most notorious pests and turning it into a work of art.

"Python is incredibly popular right now," she said. "It's hands-down the most popular exotic in the market."

It's happening at a time when the Burmese python is making headlines in south Florida. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission considers them an invasive species that pose a threat to endangered birds and others native to the state.

Related story:  2013 Python Challenge results announced

"We don't really know how many pythons are out there but it's probably in the thousands, if not tens of thousands," said Gary Morse, Public Information Coordinator for FWC. "I wouldn't call pythons in Florida a silver lining to a cloud at all... would never go that far. But there may be an opportunity to harvest these things commercially."

Luxury python items hand-crafted by artisans in New York City make up the bulk of Zarsky's business.  She currently has to work with some of the same tanneries in Europe that supply for Prada and Fendi.  Python skins are in high demand.

"Over the last 10 years - you see increasingly it's harder and harder to acquire large snakes and it's because they're becoming so popular," she said. "Python - it's beautiful. Every scale, the cut, and the way the way the material is ... all one of a kind. It's not like leather where you can just replicate it easily and it kind of can go through mass production," says Zarsky.

Zarsky said, for that reason, it commands a price that's 10 to 20 times as much as leather.  Her designs go from a small envelop clutch that starts at $1,200 up to a large bag for $5,500.

Related story:  Florida won't repeat public python hunt next year

Through her research, Zarsky has been working with a Florida hunter named Ruben Ramirez, but she still needs to find a tannery and a place to have the skins dyed for a reasonable price.

"I'm hoping to look at this as an alternative for at least 50 percent of my sourcing," she said. "The idea is to make this Floridian python a very specialized kind of rare one-of-a-kind bag."

Zarsky, who grew up spending time on her family's ranch outside of Houston, said she plans on joining Ramirez for a hunt soon.

"My handbags are not the solution to their problem with pythons - but a way of just creating something that's unwanted and turning into a beautiful piece of art," she said.

The agency allows licensed hunters to harvest pythons on 4 Wildlife Management Areas: Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA, Rotenberger WMA, Holey Land WMA, and Big Cypress WMA during any established hunting season. Those hunters need a valid hunting license and WMA permit.

Related story:  Record-setting Burmese python captured in Miami-Dade County

According to the FWC, Burmese pythons have been reported from the saline glades and mangroves at the south end of Everglades National Park since the 1980s. They're not sure how the snakes were introduced but, the agency says, it's likely Burmese pythons escaped from a breeding facility destroyed during Hurricane Andrew. Wildlife officials believe it's also likely people have released pet pythons in and around the Everglades.

FWC says Burmese pythons can pose a threat to human safety and can cause serious injury; however there have been no reports of wild pythons attacking people. Cats and dogs can be targets. There is a potential for the population to spread west towards Naples, according to FWC, but pythons will not likely survive outside of south Florida.

Don’t miss out on the day’s top Facebook conversations http://on.fb.me/18y81Cl



  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:39 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:39:35 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • RECALL: Fruit at trader Joe's & Costco

    RECALL: Fruit at trader Joe's & Costco

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 12:20 PM EDT2014-07-22 16:20:35 GMT
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
    A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.
  • How thieves clone your credit cards

    How thieves clone your credit cards

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:15 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:15:02 GMT
    File photoFile photo
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
    Patricia Stack didn't know her debit card number had been stolen until she tried to withdraw money from her bank account. "A couple weeks ago I tried to get money out to pay my power bill and there was nothing in it."
  • NewsMore>>

  • Tampa veterinarian solves mystery behind dog's unusual injury

    Tampa veterinarian solves mystery behind dog's unusual injury

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 2:23 PM EDT2014-07-22 18:23:33 GMT
    Riccie could not walk because of an injury to her back. Family photoRiccie could not walk because of an injury to her back. Family photo
    A Tampa-area Tibetan spaniel is on the road to recovery after a quick-thinking veterinarian figured out what caused a mysterious wound to the dog's back, in one of the most unusual cases he's seen.
    A Tampa-area Tibetan spaniel is on the road to recovery after a quick-thinking veterinarian figured out what caused a mysterious wound to the dog's back, in one of the most unusual cases he's seen.
  • Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Pinellas homeowner ends up the loser after local government mistake on property taxes

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:39 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:39:35 GMT
    This Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in PinellasThis Preservation land is at heart of homeowner tax dispute in Pinellas
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
    Melanie and Jeffrey Cornwell should have been getting a tax break for years on part of the homestead property in Dunedin they call their "little piece of Heaven." But due to a mistake at the Pinellas Property Appraiser's Office, they won't see any rebates for previous taxes, just a break on future tax bills.
  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
  • Sign up for WFLA News Channel 8 Email Alerts

    * denotes required fields






    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.