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Crocodiles of the World (Oxfordshire)

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Address: 31 Crawley Mill / Dry Lane / Crawley / Witney / Oxfordshire / OX29 9TJ

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      29.11.2013 11:28
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      Crocodiles of The World

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      About Crocodiles of the World
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      Crocodiles of the World is the UK's first and only crocodile zoo, with more than 80 crocodiles from 13 different species of crocodilian. They have one of the most comprehensive collections of crocodilian species in Europe, including crocodiles, alligators and caimans. It also includes critically endangered Siamese crocodile, American alligator, Nile crocodiles and black caimans. The zoo is founded and run by crocodile specialist and television personality, Shaun Foggett. The zoo is dedicated to the care and conservation of crocodiles through direct action and advancing public understanding. The zoo is entirely self funded and relies on revenue generated from admissions and on-site sales.

      Shaun was an ordinary guy whom lives in the outskirts of Oxford with his partner Lisa and their three kids. They lived in a normal house, only Shaun kept 23 crocodiles in his back garden. In 2007, Shaun survived a near-fatal illness, and as he recovered he vowed to pursue his ultimate reptilian dream, which as to open the first ever Crocodile Zoo in Britain with each of the 23 species of crocodile in the world. So Shaun quite his job and got to work. In 2010 the zoo was opened and although it has been running for a few years now they are now in the middle of building a new zoo 5 miles away from their current location where they can house more crocodiles and make the zoo better for their customers. As well as housing the crocodiles there are lots of other highlights to the zoo including glass underwater viewing enclosure for the Nile crocodiles, Hatchling and incubator boxes, Feeding displays three times a day (at weekends), Opportunity to hold a baby crocodile and there are also other incredible species here including monitor lizards, iguanas, turtles, tortoises, fish and more.

      I can't explain what it is, but I have a real love for crocodiles and I think they are beautiful and amazing reptiles. I knew about 'Croc Man' (Shaun Foggett) as I used to watch his show on Channel 5 when it aired. This show was about having crocodiles in his back garden and about setting up the zoo. We saw how Shaun set up the enclosures for the crocodiles and how he transported them from his home to the zoo. Although I really wanted to visit the zoo, I knew it was quite a way from where my boyfriend lived so the chances of going here weren't very likely before Christmas. Little did I know a few weekends ago my boyfriend decided to drive all the way to the zoo and take me there as an early Christmas present which I was extremely pleased and very happy about. We had to set off at around 9am as the journey was going to take over an hour and possibly a total of 2hrs. My boyfriend purchased the tickets online to ensure that we secured a place at the zoo. The zoo is currently only open at the weekends.

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      Visiting the Zoo
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      When you get near the zoo and approach the entrance to the car park there will be a sign showing you were the car park for Crocodiles of the World is. There is other various buildings and businesses nearby so it can be a little confusing where to park, although if you follow the signs you shouldn't have any problems. Parking is free and there was plenty of parking when we visited. It's a short walk from the car to the main zoo itself and the ground isn't totally flat so you do need to be careful if you are a wheelchair user. The way to the zoo is clearly marked so there is no chance of getting lost or going off track. I was really excited about visiting the zoo and I had a huge smile on my face as we approached the main building where the crocodiles are kept. We entered the main building and as soon as we walked in there was a desk on the right hand side where my boyfriend gave his name so they were able to look up whether we had already paid for our tickets. After confirming this, the lady at the desk told us which way to go and also told us about the other building which you pass on the way to the main building which is where you can have your picture taken with a Crocodile. The gift shop area is very small and you have to pass this in order to get to the main door in which you enter the part of the building with all the enclosures. Although the gift shop is small they have a good range of items including soft toys, rubber toys, pictures, postcards, calendars, t-shirts and more. I didn't look at the prices of the items so I can't comment on this

      The colour theme of the main part of the building was mainly a dark green colour which I thought was appropriate for what was being kept in there. The place looked really bright and it was reasonably quiet as there weren't many people around. As soon as walked through the main door we went to the left where there was a small room with different sized vivariums in with different things in. Some of the reptiles are hidden so you do have to look quite hard to see some of them. My favourite part in here was the baby crocodiles which were absolutely adorable. When we were in this small room a member of staff came to top up the water in their small enclosure and as he opened the lid you could hear them make a calling noise which sounded so cute. We got chatting to the staff member for a good 5mins or so. He was very friendly and knowledgeable about the baby crocodiles.

      By each vivarium there is some information about the different type of crocodile in that specific vivarium/enclosure and you can read some information about the reptile as well. We moved out of that room to another door on the left which was much bigger and again contained glass enclosures, which were much bigger than the one's in the previous room. The first enclosure had Caimans in and you could clearly see them in the water with their heads above the water, again these were adorable and you could read information about them. The other enclosures contained other types of crocodile and one of which had not long given birth to babies. The female was sat at the back of this enclosure and the male, although hard to find at first was sitting in the water with just his eyes sticking out of the water. The water in this enclosure had lots of bark and mud in which made it hard to see the make crocodile; how-ever the water needed to be like this and I believe it was something to do with her pregnancy.

      The main room of the building had a few small enclosures to start off with which included a few baby crocodiles (different type) which were again adorable and were swimming around in the small pool of water they had in there. There was also a very large lizard in the top enclosure as well which was laying comfortably on a large log in the enclosure. There was a huge crocodile which was called Hugo and it was actually unbelievable how big he actually was. As we made our way round the enclosures we saw many different types of crocodiles and also got to read plenty of information about them as well. I found the information about the crocodiles and other reptiles very interesting and I enjoyed reading all the information as well as looking at the reptiles as well. Most of the crocodiles are very still and won't move. A lot of people think they are asleep; however they are actually fully awake. The Nile Crocodiles were cute as they were all lined up with their heads resting on the side of the water. Some of these were swimming around in the water and you could see this due to the glass underwater viewing area. Some of these were quite feisty when in the water. Obviously all the enclosures are sealed from top to bottom with strong glass so you can't put your hand in the enclosures or get them anywhere near the animals. The glass is kept nice and clean so you can clearly see the animals inside the enclosures.

      Towards the back end of this room me and my boyfriend noticed some cabinets which had some plastic storage container in. Some of these eggs had hatched and there were some very small crocodiles in here. These were really cute and I don't think many people really noticed these as it just looks a bit like an empty refrigerator. There were 2 large crocodiles which were built from various metal materials and there was also a crocodile's skull head which was huge. The toilets were located in this area as well. When walking around the main building there was at least 3 members of staff that you are able to talk to or ask any questions. We spoke to every member of staff here and asked them a few questions about some of the animals and they are all so knowledgeable and it's clear to see they know a great deal about the animals and their care. There wasn't a huge amount of people in the main building but we did notice quite a few people on the small guided tour that the zoo offers. When leaving the main building to walk over to the other building you can go back to the main building again if you wish. They don't normally give you a stamp on quirt days but when offered a crocodile stamp on our hand we jumped at the chance (big kids!).

      When entering the other building there was a desk and an area in which you have your photograph taken with a baby crocodile. There was no-one having their photo take at this point; how-ever me and my boyfriend decided that we wanted a photo each so we were going to come back to this area after looking at the rest of the building. The first room has some gorgeous dwarf crocodiles in which were swimming about and enjoying hiding under the piece of bark in their vivarium. There was an open enclosure which had turtles in and there was also one with different fish in as well. We went out of this room into another large room which again contained large glass enclosures.

      To the right was a huge enclosure which contained a male and female crocodile. These both had problems with their jaws but they were healthy. The male was sitting at the back of the enclosure and looked very grumpy but the female was in the water. They also had a huge monitor in this room as well which was really adorable and kept coming up to the glass to have a good look at people looking into the enclosure. There was also some really good information in this room as well telling you about the different lengths of the crocodiles and alligators in comparison to other animals and things in the world. This is to give you an idea of how big some of the species can get, and it's actually scary and shocking how big they can actually get. There was a male member of staff in here holding one of the dwarf crocodiles and he was allowing people to stroke it. I jumped at the chance of stroking it and again I thought it was adorable. Shortly after this the staff member had to put it back into it's enclosure before it got too cold.

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      Feeding
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      There are around 3 feedings a day when you visit the zoo. The feedings at different times; how-ever you will be informed of the times by the member of staff at the main desk and by other members of staff in the zoo as well. We got there just before 11am and there was a feeding due at 11am so we wanted to see this. They would be feeding the Caiman in one of the smaller rooms so everyone went into this room and stood around the enclosure ready to see the feeding. The children stood at the front so there were able to see. The room did become a little crowded; how-ever I think everyone could see which was good. The member of staff feeding the caiman (who was Australian) told us a little about the reptiles first and then as soon as he put his key into the door to unlock the area where he stood in for feeding the caiman, they were up and out the water ready to be fed. He used a large stick to attach pieces of fish to and then fed the caiman. Some of the caiman jumped up at the stick to grab the food, whilst others gently took it off and then ate it. Some of them had a little fight with others over pieces of the fish. The feeding took around 10/15mins with the staff member telling us about the reptiles and how they eat, etc. This was really interesting to watch and to also learn a bit more about the reptiles.

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      Souvenir Photo
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      Me and my boyfriend couldn't wait to have our photo taken with the dwarf crocodile. We did have to wait for this as there was another family who was also having their photo's taken; how-ever we didn't mind waiting. We were going to get one photograph of me and my boyfriend together; how-ever we both wanted to hold the crocodile which is why we decided to have one each in the end. The staff member taking the photograph told us a little about the dwarf crocodile before showing and telling us how to hold the reptile. I felt very confident holding the reptile and was surprised how light it was to hold. It was gorgeous and I just wanted to take it home with me.

      I sat on the wooden chair which had been placed in front of a background and around 3-4 photographs are taken so you can choose which one you prefer. After having the photo taken he asks if you have any questions about the animals and after answering them and before the crocodile gets too cold he takes it off you and places it back into it's vivarium to warm up again. The photos are a brilliant idea and I am really glad that me and my boyfriend got one each as a reminder of our visit here. The photos did come out a little blurry; how-ever we were still pleased with them. You can purchase packages which include a large photo, magnets and keyrings; how-ever their printer for these items weren't available so you could only buy large photographs at the moment. For 2 photographs it cost us £12.50 which we didn't mind paying and we thought was reasonable. My boyfriend paid for these as another treat for me.

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      Staff
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      During our visit here we interacted with at least 4 members of staff which includes the staff member on the main desk in the first shop. She was really friendly and chatty and made us feel really welcome before we had even got into the part of the building where the reptiles are kept. The other members of staff here seem very friendly and take their time talking to visitors to ensure they find out everything they want to during their visit here. The staff are very knowledgeable and are able to answer any questions you may in regards to the reptiles themselves, the enclosures or a general questions about the zoo itself. Me and my boyfriend felt very welcome here and we thought the staff was brilliant and also a credit to the zoo.

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      Zoo Move Fundraising Appeal
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      Crocodiles of the World since opening has become a national centre for crocodile care, treatment and behavioural treatment but strict planning restrictions limit the zoo to opening to the general public on weekend sonly and with visitor and animals numbers growing rapidly, they need more space and freedom to open 7 days a week. After much searching, a new site has now been identified and planning permissions granted. Everything is in place for them to move to a large-scale, purpose built facility that will provide ample accommodation for the visitors, as well as animals. Crocodiles of the World rely on the support and generosity or their visitors and supporters to fund their vital work for conservation and to help make the unique animals exhibitions possible. Up until now, it has only been possible to continue the project with the help of everyone who supported Crocodiles of the World over the last two years. But we need your help for the final push to make our new home a reality. You can donate in various different ways to help support the new zoo. You can purchase a fundraising poster or make a donation via paypal. Every penny raised goes towards their new zoo project. You can find more information about how to donate on their website (www.crocodilesoftheworld.co.uk).

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      Overall Opinion
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      I am so pleased that my boyfriend took me here, I was so excited when I found out where we going and I couldn't wait to see the different reptiles that were here. Although the zoo is fairly small they have a fantastic range of crocodile and other reptiles, all of which can be clearly seen in their enclosures. As it wasn't too busy we could walk round, whilst taking in the information about the different species and it also enabled us to take pictures as well. As the enclosures are all glass you do get the reflections of the lights off the glass when taking pictures; how-ever I wasn't really bothered about this as I still got some fantastic pictures. Even though the zoo is small me and my boyfriend spent a good few hours here looking at the reptiles and learning about them. We loved that the staff are so knowledgeable, approachable and also really friendly which adds to the whole experience. Watching some of the reptiles being fed was fascinating and really enjoyable and I am really glad we got to the zoo in time to watch a feeding.

      I especially loved having my photograph taken with a dwarf crocodile and would gladly do this again, especially in their new zoo which they hope to open. I actually found the Crocodile zoo more interesting than any other zoo I have been too but that's probably because I am more interested in crocodiles than any other animal. I can't wait for them to move to bigger premises; which me and my boyfriend will definitely be visiting. We both plan to make a donation to the zoo within the next few weeks to help them with their fundraising. Depends on how much you donate depends on what you receive in return. This may include a signed letter from Shaun Foggett himself or if it's a large donation your name will appear in the 'Hall of Fame' on a brass plaque in the new zoo. I would definitely recommend a visit to this zoo and I can't wait to visit again.

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      Contact Information
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      Crocodiles of the World, 31 Crawley Mill, Dry Lane, Crawley, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX29 9TJ
      Tel: 01993 706990
      E-mail: info@crocodilesoftheworld.co.uk
      Website: www.crocodilesoftheworld.co.uk

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      Opening Hours/Tickets
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      Opening hours are only at weekends only from 10am - 5pm. Numbers are limited so you need to book online or ring up to secure your visit to the zoo.
      Admission Prices: Adults: £7.95, Children (3-16yrs): £5.50, Concessions (£6.95), Under 3's (Free).
      The site is partially accessible for those with mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
      Free parking will be available and there are toilets on-site. They are pleased to provide hot and cold drinks and refreshments from their gift shop and there's plenty of space to picnic if you'd rather bring your own food.


      (review also on ciao)

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