Opinion: Lovin’ the python

PHUKET: I love snakes. Whenever there is a news story about snakes sneaking into houses during the southwest monsoon season – I’m clicking on it. Snake in the road? I’m getting as close as possible to get a picture – which I admit is probably not the best idea in some situations, depending on the type of snake.

So, naturally, when I saw a man walking through one of the local watering holes with a beautiful python the other night, I immediately ran over. To my surprise and delight, he asked if I wanted to hold it. You can probably guess how I reacted (I’ll tell you anyway: I squealed like a kid on Christmas morning).

My buzz, however, was promptly killed by a friend in my group. After a few glorious seconds holding this majestic, gorgeous creature, I hear my friend yell, “That’s animal abuse!” Immediately, I descended from my own personal heaven and handed back the snake to its owner. I had just been publicly shamed for something I saw no problem with.

Later, with a more clear head and embarrassment washed away, I thought back on the incident. What exactly qualifies as animal abuse?

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Take this snake, for example. It looked very well cared for and well fed. It wasn’t on its way to be skinned to make a pair of boots. Many species of snakes are active both day and night, so it wasn’t being kept up ‘past its bedtime’ or when it would normally be sleeping. I didn’t ask to have a picture taken, and the man didn’t tell me I had to pay to interact with the animal.

The man wasn’t touting a slow loris for cash in the baking afternoon sun on Bang Tao Beach, when the nocturnal animal should have been sleeping. I wasn’t riding an elephant at one of the many trekking camps on the island, or cheering on a drinking tourist as he climbed on board a baby elephant with a bottle of whiskey in hand.

I’ve taken multiple pictures with a friend’s snake while we were out and about at a park in my hometown – as did many strangers passing by. Does this count as animal abuse? What about when I see a cute dog at the beach with its owner… should I be ridiculed for wanting to take a picture of it? And where are the critics and pitchfork-wielding mobs when an iguana is carried around at one of the beaches?

My point is that everyone has a slightly different definition of animal abuse, and many of them only extend to certain types of animals.

If you want to champion animal rights, refuse to take a picture with the animal or pay the person who owns it. Make a calm, logical argument about your opinion to a friend who maybe doesn’t share the same view, so that they can see things from a different perspective.

If you’re going to start a riot about an elephant being featured at a beach club party, then maybe you shouldn’t continue to turn a blind eye to the elephants being ridden for hours per day at various trekking camps throughout the island.

— Rae Kelly


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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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