Thursday, May 1, 2008

Photos of 3rd week (1 of 4)

On Sunday, a co-worker here of Byron's named V.J. (who has worked at EDS in Kansas City, so is fluent in English) took us to a very interesting place called "Crocodile Bank." It's a wildlife sanctuary for crocodiles. Apparently, the man who started this wanted to ensure that the world's variety of crocs stay plentiful and populated. V.J. took this first family photo of the Burkes in India. Just over the low rock wall there are probably 200 crocodiles basking in the sun.

Watch out--Byron's got a crocodile! For a few rupees, you could hold an 18-month old baby crocodile. (See those westerners in the background--that's such a rare sight! These ladies spoke French, and were probably from nearby Pondicherry (a city that was colonized by the French, I believe, and is still very heavily influenced by the French).

Can you count them? This is just one batch of crocodiles at Crocodile Bank. They were all over--hanging out together like sardines. They were motionless for the most part. There were signs and keepers around, though, who insisted that we keep our hands and selves away from the wall. "They can jump!" a keeper told us.

A closer look at some crocs. Out of the 50 or so varities of crocodiles around the world, this sanctuary has 46 of the varities. We even saw American crocs from the American southeast swamps--not that we could tell the difference ourselves.

Something else we saw at the Crocodile Bank were several snakes behind glass. We saw a couple of pretty big pythons, just lying around in their cage. Then a keeper opened the door to one python's cage, and on a pronged metal stick he pushed in a rat (which was either dead or dazed) and banged the python on the head with the rat a couple of times to get the snake's attention. The python jerked its head up and took the rat in its mouth, and for a long time seemed to be having trouble swallowing the rat. The snake seemed to be gagging for awhile (which is understandable, given what it was eating!) but finally it got the rat down. Then the keeper came and banged the snake with another rat on the head, and the snake ignored the banging for awhile, then suddenly jerked its head and grabbed the second rat (you could see the first rat, which was swallowed whole, just about 12 inches down its throat). The second rat went down much faster than the first one did, and a third rat went down even faster.

Look at who decided that she wanted to hold a baby crocodile, too!

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