Sometimes you don’t realize what you have in your own backyard. I realized I have crocodiles. Jong’s Crocodile Farm is only a short drive out of town but in 12 years I had never been. Time for a field trip! The Crocodile Farm is a bit like a petting zoo in concept, less grand than a proper zoo, but allowing more interaction with the cuddly little creatures.
We arrived just in time for the main event: the daily feeding. When we filed in, the crocs were the image of laziness, wallowing in mud or laying motionless in the sun with their mouths wide open. When the keepers showed up, they perked up immediately and swarmed the tower. Behind what looked like meager protection atop the rickety wooden structure, the keepers began sending down bite-sized hunks of offal on a line.
What a show! These lizards could jump clear out of the water to their hind legs. Their jaws smashing together made a pleasing sort of deep resonating clap; or, pleasing since we were out of the water, anyway. They struck the target less than half the time, and we the audience foolishly cheered them when they did. We should have been rooting for the offal. The rivers of Sarawak are home to a goodly number of crocs, including the famed man-eating crocodile Bujang Senang, and Sarawak leads the country in crocodilian attacks: 40 over the last five years. Nevertheless, with the crocs in the pit and us in the bleachers, we were duly entertained, staying till the last chunk of flesh was thrown into the water.
Wandering through the rest of the farm was a bit anticlimactic after that, but still fun. The cages had a modest home-made feel, but they were adequate and clean and the animals seemed healthy if not thrilled to be there. We saw owls, eagles, porcupines, biawaks, a little sun bear, bearded pigs that smelled worse than they looked, a bearcat, macaques, and my favorite, a swarming mass of baby crocodiles. I was expecting crocodile to be on the menu of the concession stand, but no: if you want to sample some crocodile soup, you’ll have to catch one yourself.