Crocodylus Park is a crocodile research facility and tourist attraction near Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia. The park houses thousands of crocodiles from hatchlings to massive five metre adult crocs weighing in at 500kg.
The concept that developed into what is now Crocodylus Park has its origins back in the 1970s. Back then the population of wild Saltwater crocodiles was severely depleted having only been protected in the Northern Territory since 1971. In 1977, Professor Grahame Webb set up a small company, which later became Wildlife Management International (WMI), to conduct crocodile research. Meanwhile the wild population of Saltwater crocodiles started to grow, and started to become a public concern, escalating with two fatal attacked in 1979 and 1980. Professor Webb realised that a new approach to crocodile management was needed to allow public acceptance of large wild populations of saltwater crocodiles. The approach was through public education, scientific research, and through crocodile farming to make the crocodiles of economic value to the community.
Throughout the 1980s WMI was actively involved in promoting the conservation and management of crocodiles. But by the 1990s availability of public funding to support crocodile research was declining, as crocodile numbers were increasing and the crocodile was not perceived as endangered anymore. The decision was made to restructure WMI and develop a commercial enterprise to reduce dependence on public funding. WMI staff came up with a plan to build an international research centre on crocodiles of the world, with focus on research into captive breeding of Australian crocodile species. Crocodylus Park was the eventual outcome of that change of direction with Stage 1 opening in August 1994. The park included a crocodile museum to make available to the public the results of years of research. At the time, there was no other museum like this elsewhere in the world.
The park has developed as a tourist attraction, and has added a collection of exotic animals, including big cats and primates. Guided tours which operate at regular intervals throughout the day, and you will have good opportunity to see the crocodiles in action at feeding time. Try to keep up with the tour guides so you get a good place to view when they move from enclosure to enclosure. On the crocodile farm you can see breeding enclosures, juvenile crocodile enclosures, and lots of crocodiles basking beside ponds. The sheer number of crocodiles at the facility is impressive.
There is café at the Park, and there are some crocodile leather products available for sale. The museum is worth a look, and has some interesting exhibits and information about crocodiles. There are stuffed crocodiles, skeletons and skins. You can learn how they examine crocodile stomach contents.
As well as the Australian Saltwater Crocodile, the Park also exhibits the Australian Freshwater Crocodile, American Alligator, Philippine Crocodile and New Guinea Crocodile. Other reptiles you will see are Rhinoceros Iguana, Fijian Crested Iguana, Green Iguana, Boa Constrictor, Corn Snake, Blood Python, Carpet Python, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, and Pig-Nosed Turtle
The Park has an exotic animal section includes big cats and monkeys. The cat collection features Lions, Tigers, a Persian Leopard, Ocelots, and a Fishing cat. Primates on display are the Cotton-top Tamarin, Common Marmoset, Black-handed Spider Monkey, Pig-tailed Macaque and Black-capped Capuchin. The enclosures for the cats and monkeys are small compared with what you would expect to see at a larger modern zoo.
There is not a large range of Australian mammals; you will see animals such as Wallabies, Wallaroos, Common Wombat and Dingo. Some of the Australian native birds you will see in the Park are Emus, Southern Cassowary, Jabiru, Rainbow Lorikeets and various ducks and water birds such as Egrets.
Crocodylus Park is located at 815 McMillans Road, Knuckey Lagoon. The park is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9am to 5pm.