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A cobra is seen in Yang Hangchang’s snake farm in Huzhou, China.
Years ago, my father in law worked as an engineer in Taiwan installing an automated freight handling and storage system for a US airbase. He took lots of video of his time in the far east, especially of the more unusual Chinese customs.
Over the holidays, he visited Hong Kong. Of all the footage he shared with me, the most unusual was of the Hong Kong wet market at night. One scene (that he surreptitiously filmed) struck me. It was of a reptile booth. The proprietor, at the behest of a customer, snatched a long black snake from a large terrarium by the back of the head, and quickly, expertly, skinned it, gutted it and drained it of fluids, blood or spinal fluid or perhaps both. The snake’s body continued to wriggle even after this ordeal.
I expected that the remains of the snake would be seared in a wok with some onions and oil, but no. There were no woks in this booth. The prize here was the snake’s bile and other bodily fluids, about a quarter cup, collected in a glass container and mixed with some kind of Chinese whiskey. Several Chinese men, the buyer and his friends no doubt, downed shots. My father-in-law later inquired and yes, this was likely a highly venomous species. It was a known fact: the more deadly, the more effective. I wonder if it was as effective as say rhino horn, or perhaps, Cialis. In any case, I found the clip to be disturbing on many levels.Published in