When Was the Snake Farm (Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute) Built?

Snakes are among the most feared creatures globally, and they are also probably the most misunderstood. When you see snakes, you instantly feel fear and the urge to run away. However, visiting the Snake Farm in Bangkok, Thailand, will help you learn and understand these creatures more. You’ll never know — maybe after visiting the snake farm, you will grow fonder of snakes.

Visiting The Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute (QSMI) is among the best things to do in Bangkok. This snake farm is an institute known for housing and caring for snakes, venomous or not, the extraction of snakes’ venom, and researching and developing anti-venom serums and vaccines. This institution is a well-known tourist attraction in Thailand and is visited by many people also because it is near many other great tourist spots in Bangkok. In fact, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and media channels like National Geographic and TripAdvisor recommend visiting this unique and remarkable Snake Farm, one of Thailand’s best tourist attractions. 

When Was the Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Built?

portrait of King Rama VI

The origin of the Snake Farm started back in 1912. In 1912, King Rama VI permitted the development of a government institution that manufactures and distributes rabies vaccines. This was also through the suggestion of Prince Damrong, who, at that time, was grieving the death of his daughter, Princess Banlusirisarn, due to a rabies infection. Aside from that, King Rama VI also wanted to build an institute for educational and humanitarian causes. 

This government institute located in the Luang Building on Bamrung Muang Road officially became open to the public on October 26, 1913. It was initially called the “Pastura Instituta,” honoring the first man who developed the rabies vaccine, Louis Pasteur. Then in 1917, they renamed it and appointed the Thai Red Cross Society to manage this government institution. 

In the 1920s, King Rama VI suggested relocating the institute. Then he offered one of his private properties located on Rama IV Road to be the new location of the Snake Farm. After that, they constructed several new buildings, and they officially opened them on December 7, 1922. They named this government institution Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, after Queen Saovabha Phongsri, King Rama VI’s mother. 

Back in the day, there were a lot of different venomous snakes that caused danger to the life of people and also animals in Thailand. They also struggled since anti-venom serums were not effective in treating snakebites in the country before the establishment of this institution. 

After constructing the snake farm, they named Dr. Leopold Robert the first director of the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute. He had a big contribution to the development of the snake farm. He is also one of the people who asked for contributions from different foreigners residing in the country to help with the establishment and development of the snake farm. He asked other influential people to look after these venomous snakes and extract venom from them. These contributions were then used to manufacture anti-venom serum for snake bites. 

At a later date, after several months in operation, they officially opened the snake farm to the public on November 22, 1923. It was inaugurated by the Thai Red Cross president at that time, Queen Savang Vadhana. The Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute became the second snake farm to be established worldwide – the first snake farm is Instituto Butantan, located in São Paulo, Brazil. 

The Purpose of Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute

person collecting snake venom

The purpose of establishing Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute was to create and develop vaccines that would help against diseases, especially rabies. After some time, the institute started producing anti-venom for snake bites, anti-rabies serums and vaccines, and many other vaccines that can help cure other tropical diseases. Aside from that, the institute also specializes in the research and scientific investigation of venomous snakes and other animals, and poisonous plants. 

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute aims to educate and teach people more about venomous snakes and provide them with more knowledge about rabies. All the products this institute produces are nationally and internationally approved and in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S), and Worl Helth Organization (WHO) Regulations. 

Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute as a Tourist Attraction

woman holding a snake

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute is currently a famous tourist attraction in Bangkok. It is visited by many foreign tourists curious and fascinated by snakes and students who go for an educational tour and who want to know more and understand these venomous snakes. 

The institute is well-known to teachers and students because it also offers academic services to help people properly understand the nature of snakes and rabies and help them apply their acquired knowledge and understanding in their lives. Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute’s educational services include the Snake Farm Bangkok, exhibiting beautiful snakes and teaching people how anti-venom serums are produced. 

The Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute consists of an indoor and outdoor serpentarium, which homes different snakes such as the Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Gray Banded Cat-Eye Snake, and Oriental Whip Snake. Aside from these wonderful snakes, the snake farm also has many indigenous Thai snakes which can be venomous or not. They also have well-known snakes like the king cobra, green pit viper, green anaconda, python, banded krait, etc. On the second floor of the Si Maseng Building of the institute, you can find a museum that showcases other information about snakes, such as their anatomy, life cycle, mythology, toxicology, and first-aid treatment for snakebites. 

The good thing about the serpentarium in Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute is that it displays snake information in both Thai and English languages to ensure that foreigners can understand and remain safe inside the institution. Visiting the Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, is such an excellent activity for friends and family as it’s extremely engaging and entertaining and can be educational at the same time. 

The Snake Farm in Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute is one of the places that helps educate people about snakes, their venom, and what to do with snakebites. They are also large contributors to the research about snakes and their venom and the development of anti-venom for snakebites. Aside from the Snake Farm, you may also visit other places in Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, such as the Animal Toxin Clinic, Department of Animal Diagnosis and Investigation, and Rabies Immunization Clinic.