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Snake Farm
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Thread: Snake Farm

  1. #1
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    Snake Farm

    The Snake Farm on Rama IV Road is out to charm visitors

    PEERAWAT JARIYASOMBAT
    Bangkok Post
    February 07, 2008


    For a close encounter with the king cobra and other reptiles from the nether regions, there's no better place than the Snake Farm at the intersection of Henri Dunant and Rama IV roads, a short walk from the affluent business district of Silom in the heart of Bangkok.


    On a recent visit I watched a king cobra slithering elegantly in a murky pool that circled a small enclave, its home, fenced off by a high concrete wall. When it hit land it raised itself and looked in my direction, its gaze penetrating, but it held no fear for me, although only a few metres separated us. The good thing is that you can admire the creatures from a safe distance, without the panic they tend to evoke on chance meetings.


    The farm shares the same compound as the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. It has gone to great lengths to recreate the snakes' natural habitat and conditions vital to their survival. You'll see them kept in steel cages, glass boxes, lazing on trees or enjoying a swim.


    Established in 1923 under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross Society, the farm's main objective is to develop serum to treat snake-bite victims. Formerly, the Simaseng Building was its nerve centre but it was knocked down, rebuilt and turned into four-storey structure complete with slide-show and multimedia facilities.


    And in keeping with its new image, the management has axed the snake feeding that used to be part of public presentations in the past. "We don't organise it any more. It hurt the creatures and the audience found it disgusting as well. All we show these days is how venom is extracted from snakes. Its held at 11am," a staff member explained.


    Two floors of the building are allocated to specimens that "walk" visitors through the arcane world of snakes. One starts in a dimly lit room on the ground floor featuring different snake species, including rare ones, kept in large rectangular glass boxes where temperature, moisture and light are strictly regulated.


    One can watch the snakes move about and learn about their natural habitat: Some species are terrestrial, others subterranean; some live in caves, some on trees, and still others in water. They are variously nocturnal, diurnal, oviparous and even ovoviviparous.


    If you're visiting on a weekday, get yourself a seat in the auditorium because the 11am starting time for a demonstration of how venom is extracted from snakes. It's staged in a glass enclosure, and for the benefit of people in the back rows images are projected onto an overhead screen.


    The most informative section is the first floor that presents the life cycles of snakes and traces their evolution back 130 million years, using animation, film and video, all available at the push of a button. Watching them you'll learn that some snakes have organs (pits) that detect heat from foreign sources, that they smell with their tongue, and have four rows of teeth that are replaced if broken or damaged.


    If you're lucky, you may get to see little cobras hatching from eggs placed in an incubator. The next round of births is expected on March 2, we were told.


    For children, there are games such as a quiz on snake venom, and how to administer first-aid to snake-bite victims. Life-size rubber replicas of bite victims facilitate learning and add to the fun.


    Also portrayed are beliefs man has held about snakes since ancient times and their place in our folklore. At 2:30pm every day there's a show in which a seasoned handler puts in an appearance with deadly specimens like the cobra, king cobra and python. A master of ceremonies dares visitors to come forward and take a look at the reptiles from close range.


    The MC keeps his audience entertained with anecdotes, while the handler makes sure the snakes don't venture too far from or too near the public. Even if you're made of strong stuff, the most the handler will allow you to do is to touch or fondle the python.


    This then was my moment, I thought, and tried to make eye contact with the king cobra with nothing but fresh air between us. But I must admit it was too close for comfort.


    The Snake Farm is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm on weekdays and 9:30am to 1pm on weekends. Admission fees are 40 baht for locals and 200 baht for foreigners. If you need more information, call the farm at 02-252-0161.

  2. #2
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    Re: Snake Farm

    Quote Originally Posted by yeows View Post
    Admission fees are 40 baht for locals and 200 baht for foreigners.
    I was there last year when it was 70 baht. It has certainly gone up a lot and I am not sure if it is worth it.

    And in keeping with its new image, the management has axed the snake feeding that used to be part of public presentations in the past. "We don't organise it any more. It hurt the creatures and the audience found it disgusting as well. All we show these days is how venom is extracted from snakes. Its held at 11am," a staff member explained.
    Everyone there agreed with me that the show was the highlight.

    Unless the new exhibits are very good, I won't be going back if I have to pay 200 baht entrance fee.

    You can read my article at thai-blogs.com

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