Only in Africa would you zip-line 5 meters above the ground over huge Nile crocodiles!
Crocodile and Reptile Park, Chartwell aka Croc City
But this is just one aspect of Croc City Crocodile and Reptile Park. Started 16 years ago Anton and Marietjie Lötter as a commercial crocodile farm, the focus changed about 10 years ago to an educational and entertainment venue. And while it’s certainly educational, it’s a lot of fun at the same time. Hence the high volume of schools visiting the venue. There are very informative guided tours every hour half an hour, starting from 09:00 – 16:30, daily. And crocodile feeding happens on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.
Venomous Snake Show
But as my little grandsons are passionate about animals of all kinds … kreepy crawly and reptilian … we visited on a Sunday for the hour long venomous snake show (at 11 only on Sundays and Public Holidays). It was fascinating. Brendon Schaper is totally passionate about what he does, is incredibly well-informed, and pulls no punches.
He began with telling us how important snakes are for environmental balance. Rats which have a gestation period of 3 weeks, can produce 7 or more in a litter and can fall pregnant again the day after giving birth. This means that the population can go from 2 to 15,000 in one year. A scary thought. Sadly, in urban situations we control this with poison, but snakes are the natural enemies of an out-of-control rat population. Puff adders are also rampant breeders, giving birth to up to 140 babies at a time (and we think twins is a big deal!). But it’s been discovered that snouted cobras prey on puffadders and so keep their numbers under control. When allowed free reign, the balance of nature is extraordinary.
And while Brendon does not minimize the dangers of snake-bites – of about 1000 snake bites a year 30/40 are fatal, mostly from black mambas and snouted and Cape cobras – he also talks about precautions to take if faced with snakes in the wild and gives detailed information about the different kinds of snake bites as well as scary information (but practical and valuable), as to how to respond to a snake-bite.
Different types of venom
So we heard all about the different kinds of venoms. The most common bite in South Africa is from spitting cobras and vipers which have fixed fangs at the tip of their mouth so cannot inflict deep bites – every cloud has a silver lining! Their venom is cytotoxic causing a burning sensation and does not attack nerve tissue as is the case with the neurotoxic venom of the black mamba. Neurotoxic venom inflicts a burning effect (the venom needs to be contained so application of a tourniquet is crucial). The boomslang’s haemotoxic venom is potent but slow acting. But more silver linings: boomslangs seldom bite (most people who have been bitten boomslangs are snake handlers). And take heart: South Africa makes the best anti-venom polyvalent globally – R1500 for vial of 10 ml. But you have to know what you are doing as you need to know what type of snake has bitten you. While adults were very sobered by all this information, most children took it in their stride.
Learning in a hands-on sensory way
And of course when it came to the hands on stuff the youngsters were riveted. Using all their senses they watched Brendan handle snakes; they held a tiny crocodile; had a huge 20kg boa constrictor draped around their necks; and felt the sleek scales of a corn snake.
Make their own pizzas and even zip-line over some crocs!
A fun-filled informative day was made even better with the kids being able to run around the open space fascinated by the tortoises roaming freely, making their own pizzas for lunch, watching a bit of zip-lining over the croc enclosures and then watching the crocs being fed … with chickens not unfortunate adrenalin junkies swooping over snapping jaws (a la Crocodile Dundee).
Croc City specializes in kids’ birthday parties
…. and naughty children beware …. you know what fates Roald Dahl or Brothers Grimm would have for you
It was such a hit that the one munchkin chose to have his fifth birthday party at Croc City.
You can find them at Corner of Cedar Road & R114 Nietgedacht 535 in Chartwell. Phone them on 083 657 7561 Entrance fees: Adult: R90; Pensioner: R80; Child: R60. These rates include a guided tour and crocodile feeding at 2 pm on Saturday and Sundays. The Flyover Fees: Adult/Child: R100