The Crocodile Park in Chennai is a zoo unlike one you would have ever visited, making it a special attraction in the Chennai tourism circuit.Chennai Crocodile park is actually a reptile zoo and was set up by the renownedconservationist Romulus Whitaker. The park is home to more than 2500 reptiles including Jaws III its most famous resident and one of India’s largest salt water crocodiles. A must see is the Snake Venom centre where you can observe a demonstration of venom extraction which is used for making anti-venom vaccines. For a spine chilling experience, do a night safari at the Crocodile Park, where hundreds of glowing red eyes will not let you forget this Chennai tourism experience for a long time!
The Chennai Crocodile Park, officially called the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpetology, is located 42 kms from Chennai towards Mahabalipuram.
Its open 830am to 530pm barring Mondays.
Your Crocodile Park trip is incomplete without some shopping at the Croc Shop! There is an enticing array of Crocodile and other reptile memorabilia like t shirts, puppets, books and post cards.
Crocodiles have been around for a long time. They came 240 million years ago along with the Dinosaurs. Crocodile Enrichment is the most fun activity you can do out here. Upon training, Crocodiles exhibit significant intelligence and behavior that is not very different from Dogs or Dolphins. You will have to see it to believe that Crocodiles can actually obey commands like sit, roll over or even play dead! What is important here is that enrichment is not just entertainment for the visitors but is good for the physical and mental well being of the Crocodiles. The trainers are good at observing the subtle body language of these reptiles and train them using morsels of meat as the motivation factor. Every animal here has a name and they are trained to respond to it. In fact Ally, a female American Alligator responds to as many as 16 commands. Now you tell me which dog can beat her to that?
Watching the crocodiles feed is an amazing experience. One moment hundreds of Crocodiles are lazing around on top of each other showing hardly any sign of activity. A moment later when a piece of flesh comes flying from the staff, you will witness an agility that will shock you. Make it a point to witness feeding of Jaws III on Sunday afternoons. At Seventeen feet, Jaws III is one of the largest salt water crocodile in India. You can participate in the feeding by sponsoring 1/2kg of meat for thirty Rupees!
Another interesting exhibit is the underwater Gharial. With elongated snouts, Gharials are distinct Crocodilians. Their snout grows longer and thinner with age! Gharials have more than hundred teeth, fifty plus on either sides of the jaw. They are usually found in the rivers of the northern Indian subcontinent. There is a large aquarium put up at the Crocodile Park where a Gharial swims majestically along with turtles and fishes.
A Night Safari at the Crocodile Park would turn out to be an unforgettable experience. Since their eyes reflect light turning red, Crocodiles can be spotted at night. The Crocodiles exhibit higher levels of octane at night probably fueled by the cool breeze from the Bay of Bengal! The seemingly sluggish Crocs seem more excited at night and indulge in territorial fights. There are hardly any lights and you will be provided torches to spot the reptiles. Once you get used to the darkness, the torch reflection from hundreds of red glowing eyes will leave a spine chilling experience! The Night Safari is usually organized on weekends only.
(Newborn reptiles in a bucket!)
Did you know that the gender of a Crocodile is determined by temperature at birth! Males are born at 31.6 degress C, while it is females at temperatures slightly lower or higher. Another interesting fact I learned out here is that the much feared and not so loved Crocodile is actually good for the ecology. By eating sick and weak fish, it improves the gene pool of fishes. Crocodiles also help improve the fish productivity of rivers by preying on predators of commercially sought after fishes.
For more information on Crocodile Bank visit Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.
Have you ever taken a guided motorcycle tour in India? Now its possible to indulge in experiential tourism while riding a Royal Enfield Classic 500 or even a Harley Davidson. For guided motorcycle rides from Bangalore to Hampi, Mysore, Thekkady, Belur, Coonoor or Kolar visit 5 Senses Tours.
Dakshin Chitra is very near Crocodile Park and is a heritage village showcasing the traditions of South India. For my travelogue visit Dakshin Chitra.
For my photoblog on Incredible India, please visit India Travel Pictures