Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bali Petting Zoo

Roadside Attraction in Bali - The Petting Zoo

During the approximately 4 hour drive from Permuteran to Ubud in Bali, the driver came up with several unsolicited ideas for interesting stops and did not disappoint. The first was this funky roadside "Petting Zoo" stuffed between the ubiquitous and almost uniformly identical little "convenience stores" that line virtually every street, path and byway in most of SE Asia. They're tiny little micro businesses that seem to sell almost the same things in the same way: soft drinks, water, snacks, local fruits and propane canisters etc. A lot of them are little more than shallow recesses in the wall and at night they are either dark or lit by about a 25 watt bulb. Very hard to see what's in there and very different from the brightly lit shops and malls that westerners are familiar with.

But I digress. This about the Petting Zoo and not small business enterprise. This is not the petting zoo most people are probably familiar with featuring fuzzy little bunnies and other fluffy woodland cuteness  for safe and fun handling by pre-schoolers. Nope. These are Pythons, Giant Scorpions and Fruit Bats, Monitor Lizards, Civet Cats (sort of like a cross between a Lynx and a Mongoose with pretty big teeth) and brightly colored birds that only seem interested in biting someones fingers off.
The Scorpion was huge, but that is not my hand. The Keeper didn't offer this one and I didn't insist haha. With hindsight though,  I kind of wish I had. 
Giant Fruit Bat… at least I hoped so…

The Civet Cat was actually really fun and playful. Pretty soft fur and ticklish. He had plenty of energy and seemed very comfortable crawling around on you. This is source of the famed and very expensive Coffee Luwak in Bali.

The Python was cool and you could feel how powerful it was, but probably not a really big one as these creatures go.
I didn't include pictures of all the animals on display here and maybe I'll add them later, but these should give some idea of what they had here. It was a family run operation and they all seemed to treat the animals with care and respect. I don't think the Giant Bats weren't even tethered and could have flown away if they so desired. They didn't seem to mind being handled at all even though I saw them get pretty snippy with each other a few times. They had an interesting feel to their wings and feet too.

I really liked the Civet Cat. It had a really great energy and curiosity as it crawled around your shoulders and head. Like a house pet, which I'm guessing it might even have been. The Keeper/Owner didn't offer me to hold the super jumbo Scorpions and at the time I didn't object at all. Afterward though, I sort of felt like I missed something and maybe should have at least asked. It didn't seem agitated or in a hurry to sting anyone at any rate.

The next stop the driver made was at a Coffee Plantation and (Surprise!!) Retail Shop where we tasted many kinds of seriously tasty coffees, infusions and teas including the option for a paid cup of famous Luwak Coffee. This is supposedly the most expensive coffee in the world and is purchased less for its taste (which isn't bad) than for it's curative and health properties. These are wholly debatable of course and it's difficult to prove the coffee you're spending beaucoup bucks for is even the genuine article. I'll maybe post pics of that portion at a later date if enough people are interested.