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Crocodylus Park & Zoo Crocodylus Park Review

Discussion in 'Australia' started by zooboy28, 3 May 2015.

  1. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I visited Crocodylus Park & Zoo on a hot afternoon in June 2014. Crocodylus Park is located a bit out of Darwin, a city located on the tropical northern coast of Australia’s Northern Territory. Darwin is a popular tourist destination, and features several zoological attractions, as well as numerous parks and gardens, and plenty of wildlife (not to mention the National Parks). I had spent the morning exploring the Darwin Botanical Gardens and the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, before getting a taxi out to Crocodylus Park, there being only an irregular bus service there. I was already quite tired, and hot and hungry, so possibly my review may be somewhat more negative than it should be, but overall I was rather disappointed. Entry is $40, but I got a bit of a discount for being a student.

    The Park opened in 1994, and is predominantly a crocodile zoo (but also a crocodile farm/research station). The entry building features a shop (including many crocodile products), small kiosk, offices, a small reptile collection and the crocodile museum. The reptile collection is composed of common snake species, mostly boas and pythons, but Corn Snakes and Arafura File Snakes are present too. These are mostly displayed in small stand-alone tanks, and all are too small. Not a particularly good first impression. The museum itself is quite comprehensive, with detailed displays, models and specimens, which explore the natural history and conservation of crocodiles. It is rather dated however, and looks a bit average. There is an Australian Lungfish tank in here too.

    Outside is the first part of the Park, which contains mostly crocodiles. The first exhibit however is a small cage for a rescued, flightless Galah. The path then winds around a large fenced lagoon, the home of juvenile Saltwater Crocodiles. The breeding pens are next, these are viewed from a central raised walkway, with small pens either side for adult crocodiles. I imagine these pens are vastly better than what most farmed crocs get, but they’re still very small. Behind the pens on one side is a paddock for Water Buffalo. Ahead were small pens for “exotic crocodilians” (off-display), Freshwater Crocodiles, and then a row of crocodile raising pens. The path then opened up to another lagoon, this one more open and crowded with small crocs. The final exhibits here were a large exhibit for American Alligators, and then a long shallow shaded pool, for Hawksbill Sea Turtle, which was probably the most interesting exhibit at the Park.

    The next part of the Park contained mostly exotic animals, starting with a pair of pens for Emu and Ostrich. The primate collection is next, with cages lining either side of the path. These are all fairly functional, with very little vegetation, but seem quite nice for their inhabitants, which include Rhesus Macaque, Black-capped Capuchin, Black-handed Spider-Monkey, Cotton-top Tamarin and Common Marmoset, quite a decent range really. This is followed by a set of four larger cages, which appeared to be rather newer. The Ocelot cage was excellent – modern, large and well-furnished with rocks, logs and vegetation. The cat itself (I think the last in Australasia) was well hidden below some palm fronds. Adjacent was that for the Baboon pair, which was similarly decent, although rather more rocky than vegetated. Next to this was the Lion cage, which was rather small for the pair present, and the smallest I’ve seen in Australasia. Opposite these cages was the Tiger cage, split in two for the two animals, and again one of the smallest cages I’ve seen for this species. They have also since received two white lion cubs, I don't know where these are displayed, but I do hope they haven't just split the existing Lion cage.

    The final area of the Park contains mostly native species, although the first is a barren paddock for Timor Ponies. This is followed by a row of mesh fence exhibits, for Red Kangaroo & Emu, Dingo, Maned Wolf, a wetland bird aviary, Antilopine Wallaroo, Cassowary, and Agile Wallaby. These are generally pretty good, with vegetation, rocks and water, and most are a good size. The Maned Wolf has a rocky cave and a well-shaded, covered cage. The adjacent aviary holds Magpie Goose, Indian Peafowl, Bush Stone-Curlew, Cattle Egret and Pied Heron, and is quite attractive. The Antilopine Wallaroo were the most exciting species at the Park by far, and the only new species I saw. They are very attractive, with a very slender head, and a nice golden colour, and were very friendly (as were the Park’s other macropods). There was also a small Sulfur-crested Cockatoo cage here and a set of reptile cages for Iguanas and Tortoises that were perfectly adequate if not attractive.

    So, overall I disliked Crocodylus Park. I did miss the crocodile talks and boat cruise, which might have improved my perception. It’s a basic collection (17 reptile, 10 bird, and 16 mammal species) with generally ok exhibits, although many are too small and/or barren. The Park had a rather rundown feeling, and I wonder how much they have been hit by the opening of Crocosaurus Cove, which has a ridiculously similar name, presumably to confuse visitors. They have also been adding more exotic species, with the Maned Wolf newly arrived when I visited, and White Lions and Meerkats arriving since. An expansion that allows open enclosure for the big cats would be a great improvement I think. One plus was the wildlife, there was heaps around, mostly birds, with various species of waterfowl, parrots and birds of prey present. The Antilopine Wallaroo were great too, definitely the highlight for me. I probably wouldn’t recommend a visit, instead if you’re in Darwin check out Crocosaurus Cove and Territory Wildlife Park, and go do some wild crocodile spotting.
     
  2. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Species List

    Species on Display June 2014:

    Hawksbill Sea Turtle
    Elongated Tortoise
    Star Tortoise
    Saltwater Crocodile
    Freshwater Crocodile
    American Alligator
    Green Iguana
    Rhinoceros Iguana
    Fijian Crested Iguana
    Arafura File Snake
    Corn Snake
    Blood Python
    Burmese Python
    Reticulated Python
    Children’s Python
    Centralian Carpet Python
    Green Anaconda

    Ostrich
    Emu
    Cassowary
    Magpie Goose
    Indian Peafowl
    Cattle Egret
    Pied Heron
    Bush Stone-Curlew
    Galah
    Sulfur-Crested Cockatoo

    Agile Wallaby
    Antilopine Wallaroo
    Red Kangaroo
    Common Marmoset
    Cotton-top Tamarin
    Black-capped Capuchin
    Black-handed Spider-Monkey
    Rhesus Macaque
    Hamadryas Baboon
    Tiger
    African Lion
    Ocelot
    Dingo
    Maned Wolf
    Water Buffalo
    Timor Pony
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    interesting review. $40 sounds pretty steep, especially for what is available there!

    I have always found their Facebook page somewhat distasteful when I have visited it, with its many advertisements selling pieces of dead animals sewn into wallets and belts.
     
  4. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    It is expensive, but comparable to other Darwin attractions. It does include the boat cruise, which would have been quite a good addition to the visit I guess.

    In the shop was a crocodile meat BBQ pack, as well as various other crocodile products.
     
  5. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I got there late in the day and it didn't make economical sense to pay the entry fee for half an hour's visit. I still have a photo of me standing next to the sign saying "crocodile BBQ meat for sale". I remember thinking that it was like those Japanese marine parks where you can see whales and dolphins perform and then eat a whale or dolphin burger at the kiosk...
    I did buy a crocodile belt from Crocodile Cove in the CBD, so who am I to judge...
     
  6. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Photo attached. Most Caribbean friends asked me to send them a piece or "how does it taste?". The answer to the latter question is that I tried it once and it had a quite rubbery texture, so I have not eaten it since.
     

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  7. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't have a problem with crocodile farming in general, although I have no interest in eating it, and it does make sense for them to sell it here, given they are a crocodile farm. I think the fact that they are farmed makes it rather better than the example of the Japanese marine parks.
     
  8. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    The analogy was not meant to lead to a 'farming' vs 'wild-caught' discussion, but more so that visitors are awed by majestic animals which they can then eat.
     
  9. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

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    "There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace."

    Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
     
  10. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    It probably wasn't cooked properly then. The few times I've eaten it it's been quite tasty and not rubbery at all. Better than the alligator I've had(which was very oily).

    :p

    Hix
     
  11. nanoboy

    nanoboy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, perhaps. It tried it at a tourist restaurant on the Gold Coast, so they probably knew that we wouldn't have a clue what it was supposed to taste like.
     
  12. WildlifeGirl89

    WildlifeGirl89 Member

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    Hi Zooboy28, I went to Crocodylus Park before and after they got their white lions, and they have indeed just split the original lion enclosure in half. I was very disappointed and will never go back there again, because every time I go there the conditions get worse for the animals. As you've said, there are some exhibits that are suitable for their inhabitants, like those for most of the native animals but the adult saltwater crocs and the big cats seem to come off second best.