What makes a great day out? Can a zoo with just reptiles, mainly crocodiles, be a good family day out?
A month ago I’d have said no. I’ve never been a fan of reptiles. Crocodiles, snakes and lizards mostly sent chills down my spine. Had it not been for my friend buying us a family ticket as a birthday present I don’t think I’d have even thought to go to such a place.
These animals aren’t much to look at, all they do is sunbathe…or so I thought
Wow, was I proved wrong!
Crocodiles of the World is a small zoo in the beautiful Cotswolds. They opened on the current premises not even a year ago, on Valentine’s Day 2014.
You can probably whizz around in just over half an hour. That is, if you wanted to, and if your kids let you.
How did we manage to spend almost 3 hours then?
Walking around, the enclosures are really well built to allow young and old to see the animals. With each enclosure there are informative boards telling the main facts about the residents and some humorous ones. (After my Waddesdon incident, these were not lost on me… you’ll want to read that one for a laugh. 😉 )
The temperature is kept warm thoroughout to buildings. This means that the cold-blooded reptiles are actually quite active.
During our visit we found the activities make this attraction exceptional: Every half an hour there is something happening. There are talks and feeding times alternating.
Not long after we arrived the first talk started. Jamie, the very enthusiastic keeper was talking about crocodiles and to show his points he was holding a baby crocodile. Afterwards Jamie let all the children and adults stroke the little crocodile, touch his feet, feel his back and the soft belly. Jamie was so patient, answering all the questions.
We’d hardly finished, it was time for the Black Caiman feeding. This lady was in the Crocodile House, a building separated from the main zoo building by an outdoor covered picnic area and a small playground. Zookepper Jamie was doing the feeding- 5 large mice. He explained how they were training the caiman to expect her food in the water. On cue she moved into the pool to await her feed, pouncing onto the feed thrown to her. Anyone interested got a good view of the action, kids in the front row not even a meter from the caiman behind glass.
We spent about 20 minutes looking around in the Crocodile house after the spectacle. The Nile crocodile enclosure is particularly impressive with more than 30 crocs in one large pool.
The story of the zoo is explained on large boards around the enclosure.
In case the littlest ones get bored there is a crocodile sculpture for them to climb and sit on.
The highlight of my trip was to come next: We joined another talk, back in the main zoo building, the python talk.
A royal python (also called a ball python) Ethal was being handled by Zookeeper Jamie this time, as he explained all about pythons, their scales, eating habits, even pointing out legs. We touched and stroked the python gently, even those slightly afraid had time to get used to her and dared to stroke her. As I was coaxing Angelina to try stroking the python, the snake gently crawled to me and the keeper let her. Seeing this both Angelina and Max plucked up the courage to stroke her. It was quite extraordinary how gentle Ethal was weaving her way along, sniffing with her tongue as she wove up my arms and onto my shoulder. It’s like handling delicate bits of bone china, not a live animal.
Suddenly I understood why people chose to keep pythons as pets. (I still don’t get those keeping venomous ones though!)
Afterwards we were about ready to go, but stayed a bit as the Nile crocs were about to be fed. It was worth the wait. Despite being warned that the crocodiles are a bit sluggish because of the winter, we saw them leap into the air to get their food, run, swim for the food. Fantastic!
As we headed home we enthusiastically chatted about crocodiles in the car. It is a lovely day out!
The venue is small and well-manageable with kids, the staff very helpful and enthusiastic.
We hope to go back in the summer and have a picnic in the courtyard.
Do you like reptiles? What does make a great day out?
Crocodiles of the World is located in the Cotswolds, in Brize Norton off the A40. It was a 35 minute drive from Oxford and was easy to find following the brown information signs.
There is a small cafe serving coffee, tea and snacks. The shop sells souvenirs and ice cream. You can even have a special photograph taken with a baby crocodile and made into a fridge magnet or key ring.
Free parking, which seemed ample.
Baby changing facilities were good.
The site seemed well accessible for pushchairs, though we didn’t have one with us as it was small enough even for Max to not tire.