Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm (陈茂丰皮业鳄鱼饲养场, officially known as Singapore Crocodile Farm) was located along Upper Serangoon Road.
Operated for more than 67 years, it was formerly the oldest crocodile farm in Singapore before its closure in mid-2012. Its premises, occupying more than an acre of land, is likely to be sold to a private residential developer in the near future.
He turned his residential home at Upper Serangoon Road into a reptile farm, which was the first of its kind in Singapore. Due to the unstable political conditions and a lack of restrictions in the country during that era, it was not uncommon that an exotic farm could be established in Singapore.
At the start, around 10 crocodiles were breed in the pits with high bricked walls. As his business grew, Tan Gna Chua set up a skin-processing factory within the premises. The number of crocodiles increased rapidly, and Tan Gna Chua’s business was soon able to attract a large clientele. Its various reptile skin products, such as wallets and handbags, and crocodile meat were also exported to overseas.
Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm was later opened for free admission to the public, a policy that remained till the day of its closure.
Despite operating for decades, many locals were not aware that there was a crocodile farm at Upper Serangoon Road. Even some of the residents living nearby did not realise the existence of this unique place.
In 1972, Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm received much publicity in the media when Louis Mountbatten (1900-1979), the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, paid a private visit to the farm with his family.
By the mid-2000s, Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm possessed more than 100 crocodiles of three to four different species. The interior of the farm largely remained the same for more than half a century, despite the rapid changes in its surrounding environment. It old signboard at the entrance, written in three languages of English, Chinese and Japanese, showed signs of aging with its fading colours and peeling paint.
Tan Gna Chua passed away in 2000 at an age of 85, leaving behind an estimated $30 million worth of assets. The Tan family was later involved in a legal dispute between the children of Tan Gna Chua’s two wives.
With the closure of Tan Moh Hong Reptile Skin and Crocodile Farm, there is only one such farm left in Singapore. It is the 40-plus-year-old Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm (农光行鳄鱼场) located at Neo Tiew Crescent. Occupying a large compound equivalent to 12 football fields, the farm has currently more than 8,000 crocodiles and three major breeding ponds.
Formerly the largest regional crocodile farm was Jurong Reptile Park situated opposite Jurong Bird Park. It was, however, shut down in 2006 due to bankruptcy.
Published: 15 July 20112