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Crocodile Zoo

Discussion in 'Denmark' started by Toddy, 14 Mar 2009.

  1. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    After a request from Dan, here is a thread about Crocodile Zoo in Denmark.

    Crocodile Zoo is a small tropical zoo in the south of Denmark. It has been built mainly by one man, the owner René Hedegaard. It is situated in an old farm a about a kilometer from the nearest railway station in the small city of Eskilstrup.

    It houses the largest collection of crocodilians in Europe with 21 out of the 23 different species. This is also the second-largest in the world surpassed only by St. Augustine in Florida. Crocodile Zoo currently keeps:

    Caimans
    Cuvier's dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus)
    Smooth-fronted caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus)
    Spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus)
    Broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris)
    Yacare caiman (Caiman yacare)
    Black caiman (Melanusuchus niger)

    Alligators
    American alligator (Alligator mississippipiensis)
    Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis)

    Crocodiles
    West African dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis)
    Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris)
    Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer)
    Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis)
    Slender-snouted crocodile (Crocodylus cataphractus)
    Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)
    New Guinea crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae)
    Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)
    Australian freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni)
    Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
    Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
    Tomistoma or false gharial (Tomistoma schlegeli)

    Gharials
    Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

    So the only species missing are American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and Oricono crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius). Crocodile Zoo also keeps and breeds various other reptiles, such as anacondas and spurred tortoises, as well as cotton-top tamarins and some parrots. The zoo is nothing huge or spectacular which is really a shame. The exhibits look small to the common visitor, but are actually quite complex and perfect for the crocodilians. The pools are way deeper than you can see and the crocs can completely slip away from the visitors' eyes. Also, not all species are displayed at once. The are rotated between the public viewing area and some backstage exhibits for privacy. This has proven to improve the breeding rates of some species.

    The zoo is very committed in different conservation projects including crocodiles, specifically the gharial and philippine crocodile. The owner, René Hedegaard, is also the only member of the Crocodile Specialist Group in Northern Europe. Many of the endangered species at the zoo has also bred.

    Some European zoo-enthusiasts will probably know Crocodile Zoo for having imported all the young philippine crocodiles for Crocodile Zoo, Chester Zoo, London Zoo, Cologne Zoo and Zürich Zoo. The Dutchies may also have heard of the zoo when it supplied 2.2 broad-snouted caimans to Burgers Bush last year.
     
    Last edited: 15 Mar 2009
  2. forumbully

    forumbully Well-Known Member

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    We (my girlfriend and I) visited krokodillezoo last october.
    to me, it's great, but that's mainly because I'm a reptile freak.

    I've made a trip report on it, which has also appeared on nordiczoos:

    After our second night in Copenhagen, we headed south again, destination: Eskilstrup, home of Krokodille Zoo!

    As a way of saying thank you for frederiks (the owner of nordiczoos) hospitality, we decide to “pimp our ride"… NordicZoos-banner style! And off we go!!!!

    [​IMG]

    We were already warned that the zoo itself isn’t all that spectacular. But being a reptile-freak I say: WHO CARES!!! They have 21 out of 23 crocodile species, so I’m bound to have a good time! They even breed 9 of the species (unfortunately, the 10th species produced an infertile clutch this year). So no matter how you put it, this is a zoo I must see.

    The zoo is indeed quite small and basically consists of a building with the terrariums for the various croc-species and a greenhouse for the alligators. Due to this limited space, every inch is used to the fullest. The landpart of each terrarium, for example, is built over the water. This overhanging not only increases the available space, but also provides a shelter for the animals. This is a feature that secretive rainforest animals like caimans and the slendersnouted crocodiles really appreciate.

    [​IMG]

    Another way to save room is by building “apartment" terrariums. Or to put it simple: just build one terrarium on top of another. This is of course only done with the smaller terrariums for small species or younger animals.

    The bigger enclosures house mostly large adult crocs are generally themed with artificial rocks and live plants. One thing did come a bit as a surprise to me. The zoo doesn’t display all animals. Several species are taken off exhibit for a couple of months per year. Doing so seems to help reduce stress and in some cases triggers mating behaviour.

    I think this gives a pretty good picture of what the zoo looks like. Now maybe a little word on the animals. Of course the most important inhabitants of the zoos are the crocodiles. You can see several “standard" zoo crocodiles such as the nile croc, the spectacled and smoothfronted caiman and the saltwater croc. But they also display some genuine beauties like the “mugger" (C. palustris), the Siamese croc (C. siamensis)
    [​IMG]

    and some REALLY RARE animals like the philipine croc (C mindorenis)
    [​IMG]

    and the Gharial (G. Gangeticus)
    [​IMG]

    I specifically mention these 4 rare species because they are the ones I hadn’t seen myself., until now. Together with the black caiman (melanosuchus niger) this brings Svens “list of crocs I’ve seen/touched/smelled" to a total of 21. So now I’m only left with the 2 new world crocodiles (C acutus and C. intermedius) to complete the list.

    Apart from crocodiles, krokodillezoo also houses several other reptile species. Green anoles (A. carolinensis) roam freely between the large crocodile enclosures and animals such as the spurred tortoise (G. sulcata), Green waterdragon (P. concincinus), chickensnake (S. pullatus) and green anaconda (E. murinus) inhabit their own separate enclosures.

    [​IMG]

    The zoo also has a few warm-blooded animals, namely a pair of tamarin monkeys in the greenhouse and near the exit an aviary with military macaws.

    This about wraps it up. Of course we stayed for hours and had a loooooong chat with the people from the zoo. Maybe one more fun fact: Krokodille Zoo is one of the very few places outside Australia that sells genuine “Steve Irwin" toys.

    I had a great time at the zoo and when we had checked in our hotel, we received a late night visit from René Hedegaard, founder and owner of Krokodille Zoo. After a long and very pleasant chat, it was off to bed, because the next morning our Danish adventure came to an end on the ferry back to Rostock.

    for more pics see: http://picasaweb.google.nl/davinianl/Krokodillezoo#
    (if you go to the main page, you can also find pics of danish zoos reepark and lintrup as well as a selection of other european zoos.
     
    Last edited: 12 May 2009
  3. Dan

    Dan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Toddy and forumbully for these interesting reviews!
     
  4. aim_foliksta

    aim_foliksta Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review and the photos! I'm a crocodile fan and I heard of this zoo many months ago, but I couldn't find any photo on the Internet .... and holds three crocodilian species I have not seen: New Guinea crocodile, Philippine crocodile and Australian freshwater crocodile
     
  5. James27

    James27 Well-Known Member

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    I would love to go here, crocs a criminally under-represented in the UK.
     
  6. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Crocodile Zoo is indeed an interesting place, especially if you get a tour. I had always been interested in crocs, but after five hours in the company of the owner René Hedegaard, my interest grew into a passion! He can make a croc-fan out of anyone :D
     
  7. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    I guess what I have to say about the crocodile zoo will be unpopular, but I found it an awful place to be, for both crocs and visitors. I think you need to be either a croc enthusiast or a species collector, and I am neither. The visitor corridors are terribly small and dark, and the croc enclosures are extremely small (and dark too). Actually I was shocked it was allowed by danish law to keep crocodiles like this. Keeping one in my bathtube shouldn`t be a problem then, and the juvenile phillipine croc could have my shower, they had actually more space in there! I just hope the off-exhibit enclosures are better.
     
  8. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Yassa, I can easily understand your critisism but let my try to chance your mind on a few of the points you mentioned:

    About the visitors, you are almost right. "Awfull" is a bit strong a word but the visitor facilities are certainly not optimal. The whole zoo is built by one man initially and situated in an old farmhouse. But a terrible place for crocs? Certanly not! More about that later. And yes, you have to appreciate crocs and reptiles for liking this zoo, or at least for traveling a long distance to see it.

    René Hedegaard is an expert on crocodilians and the breeding succes of reptiles in Crocodile Zoo is an indication of this. All of the crocs are fit and healthy. Small exhibits? They are actually bigger than they seem. The pools consists of several "levels" below water so the crocs can completely disappear from view if they wish to. And isn't dark and muddy water prefrerable habitat for crocodilians? It allows them privacy and greatly reduces their stress-levels.

    I am not saying that Crocodile Zoo is perfect but there is more to it than meets the eye of the average zoo-visitor. They are also in the process of planning and securing funds for a new huge tropical zoo to replace the old Crocodile Zoo. The new zoo will house all 23 species of crocodilan as well as many other animals.
     
  9. forumbully

    forumbully Well-Known Member

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    may I add to that that there are several crocs there that have been problematic in other zoos. bad eaters, agressive, etc. and these animals are thriving in krokodillezoo.

    so I certainly wouldn't say that it's a bad place for crocodiles. much the contrary even. a lot of zoos have exhibits that are easier on the eyes, but are actually completely wrong for the animals.

    it's true that for an average visitor, the zoo doesn't have much to offer. the difference between croc species is often very little (seen one, seen them all) and the presentation and visitor corridors are not great.

    but the animals are very well cared for and as a freak, I have spent many hours there. and when I'm in denmark again, I most certainly will do again.
     
  10. swainsje

    swainsje New Member

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    Thanks

    That was very useful as I was looking for somewhere that had the three species that I wanted to see.

    Regards

    Jenny
     
  11. Toddy

    Toddy Well-Known Member

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    Crocodile Zoo breaks world record

    According to their webiste Crocodile Zoo now sits proudly on a new world record. This august the zoo sucessfully hatched two more species (american and chinese alligators) meaning that they have bred a total of 11 species of crocodilians at the zoo. This is apparently the world record for crocodile breeding and it is also the first time that chinese alligators have bred in Europe.

    The zoo also expanded their species list this year with a group of American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) meaning that they now keep 22 species of crocodilians and are only topped by St. Augustine in Florida who keep all 23 species.
     
  12. kiang

    kiang Well-Known Member

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    Which species is missing?
     
  13. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member

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    I assume it would still be Orinoco crocodiles.
     
  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Krokodille Zoo has single-handedly put paid to the myth that Chinese alligators cannot be bred in European zoos. :)

    I do hope that Rotterdam-Blijdorp will re-invent their pool in the Chinese garden too. May the Chinese alligator ESB/EEP be re-surrected now ...!!
     
  15. forumbully

    forumbully Well-Known Member

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    yep, only the orinoco is missing from the list.
    (it's also the only one missing from my "have seen-list", having seen the american croc in Cuba last year)

    I know how much effort rene put in getting the chinese alligators to breed, I'm guessing not much zoos would do so. Rotterdam worked out a completely different principle for hibernation which is "easier". if they can get new animals and the system proves itself, I hope more zoos will follow.
     
  16. crocman

    crocman Active Member

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    There still is no official report about breeding Chinese Alligators in any zoo in Europe!
    Interesting to read it here instead of in scientific journals or the Crocodile Specialist Group newsletter...
    I just know about the recent import of Chinese Alligators by the Danish Crocodile exhibition in 2010.
     
  17. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps we should wait for that scientific publication as crocman has inferred.

    I tried the website and it is "service down" .... whatever that means. :confused:
     
  18. crocman

    crocman Active Member

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    Please understand me right: I would be glad about the successful breeding of Chinese Alligators in Europe, but I am still in doubt.
    Good to hear, that Blijdorp is planning to try again. Im the meantime, the wonderful monography written by Thorbjanarson & Wang (2010) gives us a good idea about the hibernation burrows of A.sinensis and how to provide them artificially.
     
  19. forumbully

    forumbully Well-Known Member

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    there is enough evidence that hibernation induces fertility in chinese alligators. and according to rene (owner of crocodile zoo) animals become a lot easier to handle when they get a yearly hibernation.

    combine this with all the talk of zoos to do more on conservation and reproduction of rare crocs instead of displaying niles and salties and you would think more greenhouses and stuff would be built for the chinese alligator population.

    But no, even though they are amongst the rarest crocs and their size makes them far better candidates for a breeding programme, zoos continue to keep them warm and on display all year round. Even a completely new crocodile zoo in france has no plans of breeding them. I call that contradictio in terminis. (It's also one of the reasons I believe croc conservation lies with farms, not zoos)
     
  20. crocman

    crocman Active Member

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    I do totally agree!