Many of our readers must have visited Crocodiles of the World near Brize Norton village, and perhaps have taken children or grandchildren there. It is the UK’s only crocodile zoo, being home to over 100 crocodiles, caiman and alligators representing 19 of the 24] crocodilian species, as well as other animals such as meerkats, otters, and giant tortoises, not to mention a rare Komodo dragon. It is a registered charity and was founded by was founded by Shaun Foggett, a lifelong reptile enthusiast and leading expert, in 2011. It moved from its original home at Crawley Mill to the present site in 2014. It is one of the most important attractions which bring visitors to our area.
Sadly, the zoo has been hit hard by the events of the last 12 months. It was forced to close during the first and second lockdowns of 2020 and between lockdowns had to operating with restricted visitor numbers and pre-booking only. It closed again on January 5th 2021 in accordance with Covid regulations and at the time of writing there is no reopening date in sight. All the animals are being cared for by the dedicated staff team but this is costing tens of thousands of pounds per month to cover expenses such as food, heating, veterinary bills and medication.
Despite constant lobbying there still appears to be no specific support from the government and the Zoo Animal fund remains inaccessible to zoos, unless they are down to their last 12 weeks worth of reserves, by which time it is too late as arrangements to rehouse the animals could not be made at such short notice.
However, readers can help to support the zoo in a number of ways and these can be found on the Crocodiles of the World website. Donating by phone or online is very easy. You can also buy gift vouchers for Keeper Experiences and Adopt an Animal. You can also spread the word about the zoo to friends and family via social media.
Hopefully Crocodiles of the World will receive good news soon in terms of a re-opening date, but having lost income from what would have been a very busy half-term all hopes now are pinned on possible Easter re-opening and/or government support. The zoo contributes to vital conservation work around the world and provides joy to so many visitors. We simply cannot lose such a special place, which would also be a blow to the visitor economy on which many of our struggling local shops and cafés depend.