Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Red Cross Snake Farm In Bangkok, Part 1

Snake houses on the grounds of the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok

A tourist spot that's both entertaining and educational is the Red Cross Snake Farm at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, located at the corner of Henri Dunant and Rama IV Road - about a block from Soi Dungthawee (Twilight) where an entirely different type of snake handling happens after the sun goes down.

Since snakes are a natural part of the Thai wildlife (like it or not) you're bound to see snake farms throughout the kingdom, but if you want your vicarious thrills served with a helping of worthwhile information and skillful demonstrations by trained handlers then this is the place to go.

The snakes, lecturer and handlers hold the attention of the audience, and the audience hold the attention of the cobras. It's a fair trade.

Operated in conjunction with the World Health Organization it's said to be second only to the institute in Sao Paolo, Brazil in the areas of research and the development of antidotes for victims of snake bites. I've read it was opened on 1912, initially to manufacture rabies vaccine after King Rama IV's granddaughter died from that; then put under the auspices of the Thai Red Cross in 1917 when it also began producing smallpox vaccine. Under Queen Savang Hadhana at the end of 1923 it became the important anti-venom producer it's known best as today.

The museum and outside pens and displays are open from 08:30 to 4:00pm/16:30 on weekdays, and 08:30 to Noon on the weekends, but I think most would consider the snake show to be the featured reason for going there, and those are at 11:00am and 2:30pm/14:30 during the week and at 11:00 on Saturday and Sunday. During the busy months of High Season you're well advised to be there a half hour before showtime to get your choice of seating - be that closer or farther back, depending on your own personal comfort level. I prefer to be close up, but just out of striking range.

Members of the Sawatdee forum may recognize this photo as one that I'd cropped down and loaned to them as one of their header image

The indoor museum is a good place to cool off, especially if it was hot outside during the show and demonstration. It houses many specimens of snakes (such as the green red tailed racer above), several large framed snake skins, a display on dealing with types of snake bites and a nicely preserved and displayed skeleton (below) along with a lot of other interesting things.

Tomorrow you'll see photos from the lecture and demonstration I attended where they brought out cobras, boas and a variety of other snakes for supervised viewing up close, if people wished to do so. They also demonstrated how the venom is milked from cobras such as the one below to make the antidote that has saved so many lives.

A cobra on point and ready to strike intently watches the audience 10 feet away at the Thai Red Cross Snake Farm lecture


krobbie said...

Just had a quick look to see what's going on and lo and behold here we are at another haunt I have enjoyed. I was mesmerised at the snake farm. From the the walk through exhibition to the show. Amazing.

I'm off to see Bobey on Thursday Bao-Bao.


khunbaobao said...

Have a safe trip, Keith. I sure wish I was going there this week. Things have been far more than hectic and I could sure use the time away.

Tim in Phuket said...

Just sent a visitor to Thailand here - I hope that they enjoy it - thanks for the pics

khunbaobao said...

I think they will, Tim. If they get there a half hour or so in advance they should be able to get good seats for the demonstration and exhibitions. Otherwise I'd say stand to one side of the seating to be a little closer to the front if they want detailed pictures. Thanks for your comment.

Tim in Phuket said...

thank you - i will tell them

Tim in Phuket said...

i hope that they will :-)