It's a Croc's Life

Trip Start Oct 31, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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What I did
Taman Buaya (Crocodile Park)

Flag of Indonesia  , Sumatra,
Monday, January 23, 2012

Perhaps it was out of morbid fascination? Disbelief? Curiosity? Naivety? A need to see the reality for ourselves? Who knows why we did it, but despite the various warnings and stories we'd heard from other expats, we went ahead and paid our 30 pence entrance fee to experience first hand the horrors of Taman Buaya, Medan's crocodile 'park'.  

It started to go wrong right from the start when I turned around after paying, and squeezing through the tiny entrance way, to see Roger handing over $3 to buy a live duck with which to feed to the crocodiles. We'd heard it was possible before we came, but I don't think the reality of it really hit home until we were through the gate, surrounded by tiny concrete pens, packed full with live crocodiles and packed even more tightly around the outside with people, young and old, pressed against the one thin wire fence separating them from sharp teeth and thrashing tails.  

We'd been spotted instantly as we walked through the gate and were already attracting nearly as much attention as the crocs, but the moment the guy came out holding a terrified looking duck by the wings and handed it to Roger things got scary.  Instantly the entire crowd were on us and I was pushed to the back as I watched Roger disappearing behind the masses with his duck. 

When I finally found him again, duck in hand and peering into one of the pens packed with crocodiles, surrounded by people, I could see the look of regret on his face, I don't think he'd bargained for this many people to be watching, or for the duck to be so pitiful, or for it to stand so little chance of survival, I don't think he'd really though the whole thing through until the duck was there in his hand, then he started to have doubts.  I suggested putting the duck in my bag and taking it home, but the pressure from the crowd was intense.  I started to feel like I was in one of the zombie movies where those blank eyed people creep in, closer and closer, thirsty for blood.

Finally, after what felt like hours, Roger made the decision to give the duck some kind of chance and throw him into the lake, at least that way he may be in with an escape route to the trees.  I couldn't watch, left him to it and went off to photograph some of the other pitiful animals caged up on the other side of the park. Dogs, ducks, monkeys, snakes, sad and dirty, no water, truly horrible states.  I'm not sure why the other animals were there really, except for the ducks.  The dogs we found out later were guard dogs, but the monkeys and snakes were just attractions I suppose.  

I watched people throwing their cigarette buts onto the big old crocodile's head to try and get a reaction or into the mouths of sleeping crocs, saw them kick the door of the giant snake to make him move and feed the monkey plastic and felt helpless and useless.  Why can't people see that what they are doing is harmful?  Is it just me being sensitive, after all I bought a ticket and joined the crowd, I'm no better than the rest. Answers on a postcard please! 

I caught up with Roger not long later.  The duck was no more.  Time to leave.  An experience for the records and a weird feeling of sadness, I don't really know what else to say.  Medan crocodile park, not a place to go to feel uplifted that's for sure!

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