Dionysius Brandon Wee, 39 years old, popularly known in Brunei as “Croc Boy,” shares this anecdote. “The Sultan of Brunei Bolkiah invited me to perform at the palace. He even helped me to cut loose the strings tied around the crocodile’s snout. Surprisingly, the 7-foot croc’s mouth remained open and motionless. ‘Does it bite?’ the Sultan asked. ‘It just bit me a few hours ago. Look at my ripped jeans, below the knees,’ I replied. ‘It’s not moving because you’re the boss!’ I said in jest. The Sultan was wearing a black shirt with ‘Boss’ printed on it.”
Croc Boy Diony’s Animal Adventure—dubbed ‘the educational show that makes you laugh and scream’—is touring Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines. He has done amazing stuff with various animals: he makes a “dying” hamster come to life; trains a tiger to give him a high-five; puts an alligator to sleep; and swims with the crocodiles.
“I have dogs and cats. They are ‘kuyoks’ and ‘kuchings’, meaning stray dogs and cats. But my favorite animal is the crocodile,” he smiles.
Laughing, he adds, “Do you know the crocodile can run as fast as 36 kilometers an hour…faster than the traffic in Manila!”
“Eating crocodile meat and eggs can delay the ageing process. I’ve a friend, Randy, who was then 79 years old, who tried eating croc’s meat and eggs for five years. Now in his mid-80s, he looks 40 years younger! His skin is glowing pink, and [he has] less wrinkles. He is living a life with vim, vigor, and vitality,” he brags. This writer smiles with amusement and disbelief.
The youthful-looking celebrity from Brunei has lost count of the interviews he has given not only in his country (to media outlets like The Brunei Times) but also overseas. “Well, as far as Ukraine,” the enterprising crocophile beams with pride. “I tried selling children’s books, initiated coloring contests, spelling bees, [did] story-telling, and eventually, this Animal Adventure, with the aim of making the kids happy.”
Diony, an accountant by trade, quit his banking job to dedicate his life to making children happy by organizing educational events and shows that give our little ones the opportunity to mingle with animals.
“It’s just that I love animals and Brunei has few, or [a] lack [of], places for both children and adults to learn and be exposed to animals.” Brunei has no proper public zoo, [unlike] its neighboring countries, says Diony, so the next best thing is to have animal shows, similar to the ones you see at zoos and animal-themed parks overseas.
He regards the aquatic reptile as his favorite animal and he plays a lot with it. “I guess it could be their characteristics. They look lazy and ugly, but [they are] dangerous at the same time. But once you are okay with them, that sense of relief that you experience will make you smile eventually,” Diony says in jest.
“Because you know, in the end when the little ones are happy, we as parents will be happy too. This is what inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing,” says the father of two.
“The whole idea is educate the public on the diverse sea and land animals that co-exist with us on our planet. It is a dream [for] the future generation of Brunei to be more appreciative and kind toward these animals in our ecosystem. And the best way to do it is to start educating them while young.”
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2018 issue.