Robert Pimm

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Enough Buddhas for today

By Robert Pimm

Financial Times, April 30 2004

At the Thonburi Snake Farm, dusty display cases stand derelict. Half the exhibits (“banded krait, poisonous”) seem to have escaped. Beneath a canopy, a small audience, dulled by heat, watches a bare-footed handler torment two cobras until they strike at him; then he grabs one by the head, forces its fangs through a plastic membrane, and milky venom pours into a jar.

Owen with python at the snake farm

Next on is a copperhead racer: a big, fast-moving, brown-and-black-striped snake. The handler goads it until it leaps over the low barrier that separates the snakepit from the audience. Children scream and scatter. “I forgot to tell you,” the compere says; “this one is not poisonous.”

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