Crocosaurus Cove was purpose-built in 2008 to provide visitors to Darwin city an up close and personal view of the Top End’s unique animals. Crocosaurus Cove offers meaningful interactions and encounters with our animals while under the supervision of trained and passionate professionals. Our unique encounters serve to educate visitors on the importance of valuing and preserving Australia’s native wildlife, and encourages a peaceful co-existence between humans and reptiles in the Northern Territory and beyond. As guardians of a diverse array of native reptiles, Crocosaurus Cove seeks to meet and surpass accepted animal welfare principles.

These are described below:

 

1. Nutrition

To meet the individual nutritional demands of each animal by providing a varied, species-specific diet with consideration given to enrichment and natural foraging opportunities. Animals are provided with additional supplementation as advised by industry professionals, and appropriate heating and lighting to maximise the nutritional potential of their diet.

 

2. Environment

To provide species-appropriate housing and enclosures with size, space allowances, and furnishings carefully reviewed and provided in line with Australian government standards1. Enclosures are designed to allow animals to express innate behaviours such as swimming, basking, climbing, digging and submerging in water. Each enclosure promotes a temperature gradient specific to the animal housed within which is a priority for the health and wellbeing of reptiles.

 

3. Health

To implement high husbandry standards with an emphasis on disease prevention and biosecurity. Animals live in clean and safe environments that foster health and wellbeing. The team at Crocosaurus Cove are trained in disease recognition and regularly consult with professionals such as vets, pathologists, and scientists.

 

4. Behaviour

To place a strong emphasis on environmental enrichment that allows the animals to perform important behaviours and enjoy mental stimulation. For example, the use of UVA lighting is known for its positive behavioural and psychological effects in reptiles, which our animals are given access to.

 

5. Mental well being

To recognise stress in the animals and manage it appropriately should the need arise. The animals have a content relationship with our staff members, who take a gentle, positive-reinforcement approach to training. Respect is given to our animal’s preferred individual routines and staff are trained to recognise their willingness to engage in a training session.

 

In addition to these points, we would like to address 3 specific encounters available for visitors at Crocosaurus Cove and how they adhere to appropriate animal welfare standards:

 

1. Handling

At Crocosaurus Cove, we believe the best way to engage with our visitors and develop their long-term positive appreciation for reptiles is with meaningful interactions. Consequently we offer animal handling opportunities throughout the day. All interactions are conducted in a way which seeks to avoid unnecessary discomfort, behavioural stress, or actual physical harm to the animals, as recommended by EAZA Standards for the Accommodation and Care of Animals in Zoos and Aquaria. Animals are handled under the supervision of highly trained staff members and each animal is handled on a routine roster with adequate rest opportunities.

 

2. Photography

Crocosaurus Cove offers the daily opportunity for visitors to purchase an iconic souvenir photo of themselves holding a baby crocodile. This opportunity allows visitors to look at the unique features of a crocodile up close. For the safety of both the crocodile and the general public, in line with the Australian government’s Code of Practice on the Humane Treatment of Wild and Farmed Australian Crocodiles carefully avoiding the nostrils. Tape is applied loosely but securely around the jaws of the crocodile, carefully avoiding the nostrils. The crocodiles are handled carefully and maintained in comfortable conditions. The tape is removed when the crocodile is replaced into the pen.

Detailed records are kept to ensure crocodiles are allowed adequate rest periods. Members of the public are only permitted to hold our crocodiles while under the supervision of trained staff members.

 

3. The Cage of Death

The Cage of Death activity offers an opportunity for visitors to get as close to a large saltwater crocodile as possible while in a controlled environment that is safe and enriching for both the crocodile and the visitor. By encouraging behaviour for a food reward, the Cage of Death activity is a form of enrichment for our crocodiles. Our staff present their food in a way that encourages their natural instincts to hunt.

There are 4 crocodiles who participate in the Cage of Death activity. They are used rotationally and given scheduled breaks.

As detailed above, careful consideration is taken on a daily basis to ensure that our animals are comfortable and content in their surroundings. We can assure that the health and wellbeing of our animals is of utmost importance to the owners of Crocosaurus Cove and our staff members.