Siem Reap Crocodile Farm
Siem Reap Crocodile Farm
The Siem Reap Crocodile Farm is located at the southern end of Siem Reap town along the road to Tonle Sap Lake. The collection holds about three hundred crocodiles in all. Visitors are charged $3.00 for entrance. It is much less for Cambodian nationals.
The collection was first opened in or around 1976 and operated as a zoo under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture before being taken over by the present owner in 1989 They keep principally Siamese Crocodiles Crocodylus siamensis. Animals are used for supply food for the nearby restaurant and leather for goods manufactured and sold in the zoo giftshop.
The crocodile farm was said by Lim Chhay, the present owner,to have been used by the Khmer Rouge who brought people there and fed them to the crocodiles*.
There are at least three other crocodile farms in the Siem Reap area and one restaurant ' The Dead Fish Cafe' with a crocodile pit.
The information below is taken directly from my travel journal The Itinerant ZooKeeper.
I walked on over to the Butterfly Garden and Bar. A very tranquil and relaxing place with shade and numerous butterflies a major plus. Not very big, more a netted garden than anything but masses of plants and fruit trees which included Avocado, Mango, Pomegranate, Banana, Cashew apple, Dragon eye's fruit, Custard apple amongst others. There were only about six species of butterfly but dozens of them. I thought the fact that butterflies outside the garden were trying to get in was a good sign.
Afterwards I visited the infamous Siem Reap Crocodile farm with the belief I would be shocked. I wasn't, so that was a pleasant surprise. I suppose it helped that I could get myself into the frame of mind that I was visiting a farm and not a zoo or conservation centre or anything with the slightest apparent or obvious aspiration or inclination in that direction (I suppose the only hiccup here was the ticket which stated "Help preserve wild animals 611"). The farm shop told the story with crocodile eggs, teeth and leather being the main products for sale along with the inevitable skulls and stuffed deaders. Well I suppose killing the domestic animals may actually preserve the wild ones.
I had been informed that this place held species other than crocodiles. I saw none. There were numerous neglected empty and deteriorating rearing pens suggesting this place is in decline. Hopefully it is terminal.
The occupied enclosures for the smaller growing animals were practical, providing sufficient space, clean water and somewhere both to bask or escape the sun. Water depth seemed to be okay.
For the larger animals it seemed they were overstocked and the water was muddy, not that mud is a problem and is inevitable in a pen of this type. The perimeter of the enclosure was divided into numerous nesting pens, none of which were occupied. I didn't think that any of the animals in these large pens looked particularly stressed or out of condition but then this is very difficult to assess with crocodilians, especially in a quick visit.
The thing that disturbed me most about this place were the two pens of approximately 3-4 year old animals that had no tails. If these 'mutilates' had included a couple without limbs then the horrible suspicious thoughts I had would probably never have entered my head. I noted only a single semi adult animal with the same condition but as many of the animals were in the water there could well have been more.
*A crocodile farm with a grisly past struggles to attract tourists - Phnom Penh Post - 4 June 2009