This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
In Indonesia, one of the most dramatic goodbyes on TV wasn’t between two humans who love each other. The touching moment was broadcast a year ago, when a crocodile named Kojek has to part with its human family who had taken care of him for 21 years in Bogor, West Java. The elderly woman, Maemunah, who cared for Kojek day after day, was bawling. To her, the 200-kilogram giant was like a grandchild.
“I’m sad, I had him before I had any grandchildren. He’s like my oldest,” Maemunah told NET News over a year ago.
Maemunah’s family fell into the spotlight after a video of her child casually brushing the crocodile’s teeth surfaced on social media. In the video, the girl is calm and focused, as if she's washing the dishes. The video became viral, and the government got involved and asked Maemunah’s family to move Kojek to a better habitat.
Then a similar video blew up on Twitter, but this time, the main star was an elementary school-aged girl bathing and brushing the teeth of a crocodile and an albino python, as two rare birds looked on.
There are a few videos of the young girl grooming these wild animals circulating on social media right now. One shows her brushing the albino python’s teeth. Another the girl brushing the a crocodile’s teeth. The last video shows the girl dusting the croc with powder, which looks like it's enjoying being pampered.
The series of absurd videos have caused a lot of laughs. How is this girl so comfortable interacting with a crocodile and treating it like a doll?
Owning exotic and rare pets without proper permits is a common occurrence in Indonesia—even among people with the purest of intentions. Experts have criticized the way Maemunah and her family cared for their 200-kilogram companion. Crocodile experts at the Indonesian Scientific Institute (LIPI), Hellen Kurniati, told Kompas that the way Kojek was kept at home is far from exemplary. One reason is that Kojek was obese.
“The croc is spoiled, so it cannot be returned to the wild,” Hellen said. Maemunah's family's love for these "weird" pets is not that strange, to Indonesia's standards. Here at VICE's Jakarta office, we've written about Ice Habibi, a man who lets poisonous King Cobra pets bite him because he's immune to their venom. We've also hung out with Ming Cu, a woman known as the ‘Queen of Tarantulas’, who collects thousands of spiders in her home in Bandung.
There is also a man named Abdullah Soleh from East Java, who's kept a pet tiger for more than 10 years in his backyard. The tiger is so tame that it acts more like a cat. Let’s not forget about Indonesian actor Lucky Hakim, who's probably more famous for keeping around 300 exotic and wild animals in his house than his acting.
Hopefully, the girl’s family won’t be punished for keeping the reptiles as pets. At the very least, it looks like she really cares about them, which is more than what some zoos in Indonesia can say about the animals they keep.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.