Cape Town - Heartfelt tributes have been paid to veterinary technician and snake catcher Rico Pentz, who died after he was bitten by a Cape Cobra.
The 39-year-old from Stellenbosch, who was the founder of Helderberg Wildlife Rescue and Anti-Animal Cruelty, is believed to have passed away in Tygerberg Hospital on Sunday after he was bitten by the venomous snake last Wednesday.
His partner, Eva Nelipot Freedom, paid tribute to her late partner, who died by her side.
“Today we said goodbye to a human who was nothing less than a legend. The earth was blessed to have you around.
“My beautiful thing with the most gorgeous eyelashes, most beautiful heart, who fiercely defended everything he loved so bitterly and stood for.”
She wrote: “A father to so many little children – our own human pink fairy hooligans, Eep, Jezebel, Kratos, Bear and many others.
“My breath is knocked out of me. It feels as if my life is over. My heart is more broken than it’s ever been before. I love you so bitterly. You will never be forgotten.”
When reached out for comment on Tuesday, Eva indicated that she wasn’t in the right space to comment.
“Thank you for this. I’m in pieces. Would you mind just giving me a bit of time.”
In 2022 Rico underwent surgery after a female puff adder snake bit him on his right arm.
Following his recovery, Rico then got a tattoo of snakes to cover up the scarring.
Since news broke of his passing, condolences have been pouring in on social media as several animal rescue organisations paid tribute for the work that he has done.
A tribute on Blackie Swart Snake Relocation Services’ Facebook page described Rico as an animal lover and rescuer.
“The entire Helderberg and the Western Cape has lost an icon, a true meaning of the word animal lover/carer/rescuer. Not only a true animal lover but an even better carer and man/ husband/father figure to his family at home.”
Meanwhile, a BackaBuddy campaign has been created to assist Rico’s family as he didn't have a hospital plan or funeral policy.
Rico’s BackaBuddy campaign went live on January 22, and has raised just more than R11000 towards the R60000 target.