Nine, ten, eleven, twelve… after seeing more than a dozen voracious crocodiles leaped out from the opaque and brownish green pool to grab chunks of meat hanging from the fishing line, we stopped counting. After all, this exhibition of predators at the Davao Crocodile Park in Manila were being upstaged by a nine-foot Burmese python, a five-kilo iguana, a gigantic bird from Australia, and a tightrope artist.
Observing the lifestyle and feeding habits of these lone survivors of the Jurassic Age were part of Joaquin’s educational field trip this year. But the tour is not limited to these primeval creatures. Inside the crocodile park is a butterfly sanctuary and insectarium where we played biologists holding a magnifying glass to view larvae eggs, butterfly cocoons, geckos, crickets, millipedes, and scorpions inside terrariums.
There were chirping and screeching sounds coming from the aviary where we saw a hornbill, a cassowary, a couple of ostrich, and different birds of prey.
One of the main activities inside the camp is the animal show. After a short introduction by the host on the history of the camp, he introduced the curious crowd to each animal ambassador beginning with the white Australian eagle, then the Burmese python, and the Philippine crocodile. Members of the audience were encouraged to come close to these endangered creatures on stage.
The main event was the crocodile feeding, where we saw how keepers went into one of the two well-secured cages to toss food to these aquatic predators. Bigger freshwater crocodiles are enclosed in a larger cage where we saw how they aim their ferocious-looking snouts at the chunk of meat hanging from a fishing line. The five-foot creature would then snap out of the water to snatch its lunch.
A tightrope artist emerged above the 10-foot deep pool swarmed with hungry crocodiles. He kept his balance by extending both hands sideways to the level of his shoulders. When he would lose balance, he had to rapidly rotate his arms like propellers to regain his footing on the cable.