Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pattaya Thailand Trip, The Croc Shows

A half hour after first discovering the elephant yard way in the back left corner of The Million Years Stone Park, the sound of traditional Thai music began to play loudly from loud speakers behind us. We knew from the schedule that it meant that the next crocodile show was about to begin. Not about to miss the show we immediately answered the call and headed to the indoor crocodile arena immediately abutting the elephant yard.

The crocodile show arena is basically a long shallow swimming pool with a smoothly tiled irregularly shaped island barely rising above the water level in the middle. Our first goal upon entering was to get into some seats that would provide the most complete view, preferably high and in the middle; being some of the first ones in there, that was not a problem.
Essentially, the show consists of a young strapping local lad having his way with several crocs for about 25 minutes. He manhandles them, pulling the larger ones around by their tails with one smaller one he actually picks up, cradling it in his arms.

He continually splashes water up on the central island making it easier to slide the huge reptiles around on it. It also needed to be slippery when wet to allow his body to easily slide on it during portions of the performance.
He starts out at the far end with a medium sized croc, arranging it so that it faces down the middle by pulling its tail around. The brave Thai, dressed in what looks to me like orange pajamas, demonstrates throughout the show his indifference to any threat posed by the crocodiles, even when he does death defying things like putting various body parts in the reptiles’ wide-open mouths.

I know there must be some kind of technique to keep from being chomped on by those things. I mean I SAW what one was able to do to the half a chicken that I dangled on a rope only a short time before. That time I knew its intentions but still I wasn’t fast enough to keep it from happening. Yet somehow this guy is able to place his hands, and even his whole head, deep into those gaping mouths rimmed with menacing teeth and every time retrieves hands and head without harm.
It probably has something to do with keeping the show crocs so well fed so as to prevent them from unauthorized feeding, but I have to believe there’s more to it than that. Surely a crocodile’s instinct to bite down is overpowering when tempting bits of body are dangled right inside its mouth? It seems self preservation instincts alone would surely dictate biting behavior of any wild animal and you cannot get any wilder than a pea-brained crocodilian.

One deed performed by the death defying fellow was extremely fun to watch. First he arranges one of the big crocs at one end and somehow makes the animal hold its mouth wide open. The guy then goes all the way to the other end of the island, and after plenty of dramatic buildup backed up by the proper stage music and remarks (in Thai) by the emcee, he runs at the gape mouthed critter full speed. After five or six sprinting steps he drops to his stomach and goes into a spine-tingling seemingly out of control slide into apparent certain mayhem.
Another act of daring do is when he performs the old tried-and-true head fully into the crocodile’s wide-open mouth bit. I don’t care how many times I see that; I get chills, especially when he does it with the monster croc. The danged thing is a giant. On the second time he yanks his head out from between all those teeth lined up in those bone crushing jaws and as he does so the croc actually seems to try to snap his jaws together. Holy mackerel but that IS a good trick.
Later in the week we went to another park that also had a crocodile show and it pretty much went the same way as at Stone Park. The one notable difference though is the addition of a beautiful young lady who also has the nerve to place her pretty little head between jaws of a giant croc. What a gal!
I have video of much of this but YouTube is loaded with clips of Thailand crocodile shows I see. Check them out. I see there are even some showing the crocodile actually biting the performer. I think I'll skip those.


Ed said...

I've seen enough crocodile stunts gone wrong videos that you would never catch me doing that.

As for the secret, I'm sure they are well fed and in most demonstrations, I always see the person repeatedly poking or slapping the outside of the jaws before sticking their appendages inside. I'm guessing the touching of the outside causes them to open up and as long as you don't don't the inside you are okay most of the time unless the crocodile can see you.

PhilippinesPhil said...

No, at times they pointedly go out of their way to reach in and touch stuff in there. The one orange clad lad even reached all the way into the back of "the big boy's" throat, almost up to the shoulder bringing out a handlful of gooey aligator digestive slime. Regardless, I give these folks a lot of credit for guts, coz they KNOW it could easily go bad, yet they still do it.