TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — News that the renowned "World's Snake King Educational Farm (世界蛇王教育農場)" in Tainan quietly shut down last October has only now reached the public.
The private zoo closed after its controversial founder passed away on Oct. 2, 2020, and his family is now seeking buyers for the roughly 1.6-acre property to clear a debt of nearly NT$20 million (US$710,000).
Huang Guo-nan (黃國男), the owner of the exotic menagerie, collected many rare reptiles, big cats, and birds. He dubbed himself as the "world's snake king" for his expertise in rearing venomous snakes, especially cobras. At one point, he was said to have kept up to 500 crocodiles at the facility.
Huang's son told LTN that the family has no intention of continuing operations.
Meanwhile, the relocation of crocodiles, a Bengal tiger, a lion, a sun bear, black mambas, and other animals has been a gradual process.
The zoo used to welcome over 300 visitors a day and put on shows with Huang kissing cobras. However, numbers declined to less than 10 people a day amid constant protests from local animal rights groups, leading to its demise.
In 1993, Huang successfully bred 1,600 cobras, the first time such a feat was ever achieved. His successful snake breeding drew many visitors from around the world including animal experts. He was later honored by then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) for his achievements and was once hailed as a role model for young Taiwanese snake breeders.
Huang went on to establish the country's first and only legitimate cobra farm, where it once accommodated up to 6,000 cobras during its heyday. He then established the private zoo in Tainan.
In 2010, the zoo bred three ligers, a hybrid offspring of a lion and a tiger, but two of them died and the remaining one had genetic birth defects, including scoliosis. The outcomes of Huang's illegal and forced breeding experiment brought an onslaught of criticism and protests from animal rights groups.
Huang was fined by the Tainan City government for violating Taiwan's Wildlife Conservation Act, and the baby liger was transferred to Pingtung Rescue Center for better care and rehab. The liger is now 10 years old.
Watch the video below for an update on the liger: