While visiting Thailand I found myself sitting in the front row of a show that I immediately regretted. It’s main attraction? A cobra fighting a mongoose. Here’s what happened.
Thailand is a vastly beautiful country full of wonderful people. The attractions are breathtaking, it’s cities are captivating, and there’s no end of sights to take in. That being said, I found myself in a rather uncomfortable situation one afternoon outside of Bangkok.
After having spent a fantastic afternoon at one of Thailand’s famous floating markets, I found myself with a bit of time to kill. As I wandered about just outside the village, the group I was with was approached about seeing a cobra show. The little boy in me took over. Cobras? Absolutely! I’m endlessly fascinated by sheer volume of biological diversity in the world, and always try to take an opportunity to view animal life when it’s presented to me.
I would almost immediately regret it.
After purchasing a ticket for a small fee, we were brought into the show. I knew something was amiss right away. It was an arena. A few discarded taxidermic animal specimens in the back warned me that this was not the place to be.
For the next half-hour or so, several species of snakes were brought around for the public to view. And by view, I mean gawk in an uncomfortable manner as scruffy, worn out handlers brought the snakes around the area, forcing their mouths open with mesh and literally pushing the penis out of one of the male snakes.
Ever seen a snake penis? Ever wanted to? Probably not.
These guys are going to show you anyway.
The handlers then proceeded to toss the snakes in the middle of the arena where their resident snake tormenter tossed the snake about, yanked at its tail, and attempted anything that would piss the snake off to make it flash its teeth or strike.
And then there was the main attraction. Battle royale: a cobra fighting a mongoose. In the wild, the two are mortal enemies. In theory, I suppose watching the two of them duke it out isn’t unnatural, and in the wild I might have felt differently. But this was an unnatural performance.
At first, it seemed that they just weren’t in the mood. For the first few minutes they virtually ignored each other, a telltale sign that this particular battle had been fought out far too many times, and that neither party was interested in participating in a futile battle that would have no end. These same two animals had probably fought a thousand times before, being pulled apart before either could have their victory. Surprisingly, in the wild, the cobra is the underdog. A mongoose is a fierce fighter with thick skin and rapid reflexes, and they will regularly dine on cobra if the opportunity presents itself. But the two of them were sick of the farce.
Finally, after five minutes and some prodding with a stick, the two finally began to spar. The crowd watched with some interest, but I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of the crowd had become somewhat uncomfortable with the entire endeavour. Perhaps it was the snake penis. Perhaps it was just the inkling that the entire show was a bit sadistic.
Here’s a clip of the actual fight, which I present for one reason: so you don’t feel tempted to pay to watch animals torment each other for your entertainment. I’m sure there are hundreds of these shows across Asia, and I would venture the guess that none of them are any better.
In the end, we all quietly shuffled out of the scuzzy area and probably wondered what had brought us there in the first place. And like an ashamed crowd leaving a ping-pong show, probably tried to forget that we had paid to watch such a disturbing act.
Yes, the infamous Thai ping-pong show. But that’s another story I’ll one day have the stomach to tell.