Here at Crocodile Encounter we are all about education and animals. With our animals we are able to spread a very good science message throughout the Houston area and beyond. In our travels we frequently get asked a myriad of questions that we will address here. Crocodile Encounter is owned and operated by Chris, Bernadette, Bryson and Brooks Dieter. We'll add to this FAQ from time to time so check it now and again for additional items.
1. Is it safe to visit Crocodile Encounter?
This is a very common and often perplexing question. It is impossible to be bitten at Crocodile Encounter unless you choose to go swimming in the ponds with the animals. In the 1000's of interactions we have with the animals each year the owner has been bitten once as a result of keeper error. We maintain very strict and secure safety protocols at all times with our animals with a guide present at all times except on our open days. A visit to Crocodile Encounter is much like a visit to any zoo with the exception our tours are guided and we use rotating educational presentations.
2. What species of crocodilians are at your location?
Crocodile Encounter currently maintains 14 species of crocodilians but our primary species is the Nile crocodile from Africa of which we have the largest group in the nation. Every year our facility grows and you are able to see more species on public display. We hide some of them until they are able to safely handle the rigors of living outdoors. Coddle is probably a more accurate word. They get loved on. Most of our resources are devoted to Nile crocodiles of 5 different bloodlines and our American alligators.
3. What type of events do you perform at?
School shows of all types, birthday parties, cub scout events big and small, colleges, summer camps, nursing homes, day cares, museums, libraries, fairs and festivals. You name it and we have been there. As the years have gone by our zoological facility is now the hub of our activity with our outreach programs acting as an important second educational venue.
4. Do you sell crocodiles?
No crocodiles are for sale at Crocodile Encounter. It takes a special talent to keep a crocodile and allot of committment of resources. We share and exchange crocodiles with many zoos across the nation. Part of our developing role in the zoological world is the holding and reproduction of the larger species of crocodilians whose space requirements can become burdensome in many city zoos. Our facility is very large and primarily dedicated to these large species.
5. How many animals are typically in an offsite program event?
We typically bring 10-15 animals that represent the four major reptile groups. We use a standard sampling of the four primary reptile groups.
6. How long does the show last?
There is no time limit. Typically each show will last around 45-50 minutes to an hour depending on the size and age of the audience. We setup, present the animals, tell some corny jokes, and answer questions at the conclusion of the presentation. The birthday child also receives one of our staff shirts. It's their day and we want them to feel special. The show has a great narrative that is really enjoyable for young and old.
7. What is the largest crocodile at your location?
We have several males that are between 12-13ft. However they will soon be eclipsed by some of our younger animals that are doing some serious growing and have superior genetics.
8. How many different turtles does Crocodile Encounter have?
At any one time we have 10-15 species of turtles at our location with varying numbers of each.
9. How big an audience can you perform for?
We have given presentations to audiences of over 1000 individuals at one time. These are primarily multi media demonstration events for schools, museums or scouts. At fairs and festivals we often have even more in the audience. Crocs bring BIG crowds. For our field trips we can accommodate groups up to 350-400 students.
10. In your opinion which of your show options is preferable onsite or offsite?
This is really up to you. We think the onsite show is simply an incredible event at the price. Nothing else in the Houston area, or heck, Texas, measures up. Both offer a very unique edu-tainment experience. We perform hundreds of offsite events every year and the program is both educational and enjoyable for all ages.If you are a family looking for something to do its a great way to get close to the animals without fighting a zoo crowd.
11. Are you open to the public? Can we just drive up?
The public is welcome to attend during any of our open hour time periods without a reservation requirement. Our tour times vary at different times of the year due to weather and animal activity patterns. You may also do a self guided tour during any of our open hours although we highly suggest the guided tour as it is where we feed the big guys! Each season has it's own positives in regard to a visit to Crocodile Encounter. Any group(school, scouts, daycares, camps, etc) can schedule a visit at any time and we will make sure we accommodate your request.
12. How does an onsite event operate? Do we enter and walk around?
You have the option of a self guided experience or a guided tour. All tours are guided with a knowledgeable guide who has spent allot of time onsite and can provide answers to your questions as well as stories about the animals themselves. This also allows us to both stimulate the animals and monitor the interactions with your group. It creates a very rewarding experience for the guests. We have roughly patterned our format after the Crococun Zoo in Cancun Mexico. We went there for a visit and they offered only guided tours. We where very impressed and compared to the majority of crocodilian facilities we visited stateside we felt they offered a very memorable interactive experience. We have of course put our own stamp on Crocodile Encounter but we hope our guests leave with the same feeling we had during our visit to Crococun.
13. How did you get involved with this?
I have no earthly idea. I'm from Connellsville Pennsylvania and there isn't a crocodilian for a 1000 miles.I liked dinosaurs and Godzilla as a child and crocodiles are the closest thing to that I suppose. I just truly enjoy looking out my window and seeing that level of awesome. Nothing beats it. Bernadette married into it. Bryson and Brooks have been born into it all. They have no chance:-)
14. Do you name your animals?
Some of them have names, most do not. The crocodiles are the most intelligent and personable so that lends itself to naming although the tortoises tend to beg for names as well. The way it usually works is they get big they get a name.
15. Do you plan on making the facility larger?
We are constantly making additions and changing portions of our facility to enhance both our animals and visitors experiences. Our goal is not to be a giant facility but an immersive experience that allows maximum interaction and educational value. As currently constructed Crocodile Encounter has the largest footprint of any outdoor crocodile facility in the nation and grows more each year.
16. Are your crocodiles trained?
Yes, all of our crocodiles are trained to respond to a certain sounds and visual stimuli. This will be demonstrated at all onsite events and tours. Some are better than others. The crocodiles we have raised are the best trained while animals we sourced from other locations are less so.
17. What do you do when a young crocodiles grows up? Get rid of it?
OH NO! Never! Crocodilians start small and get big. As they grow we cycle them threw different enclosures and eventually adult habitats. We think far ahead about this stuff. The crocodiles almost become family members or more accurately a family that lives next door. Or a subdivision that exists next door. Maybe a town, Crocodile town! I detect a slogan in the making! In all seriousness we often assist other zoos with their large species as we have the space and climate to provide them with excellent conditions. We have animals currently tucked out of site that will be major exhibits a few years down the road. You know they say everything is bigger in Texas- it applies to croc facilities as well!
18. What do you feed the crocodiles?
We feed a rotating mix of pork,red meat, rodents, poultry, wild game, and Mazuri crocodilian pellets. Ajax one of our big male Nile crocodiles prefers rabbits.
19. How far in advance should we reserve an event?
People vary in this regard. Some plan well in advance,some wait till the last minute. The sooner you call the more likelihood you'll get the date and time you want. We try to accommodate everyone as a child's birthday only happens once a year. It never hurts to call and ask!
20. How do you arrive at the price of each event?
Pricing is determined based on a variety of factors including area competition from similar events, event type, and distance from Crocodile Encounter. Your not just paying for the show in reality your paying for up-close access to some of the world's most amazing animals. These animals must be maintained even when they are not 'paying the freight' so to speak. We do all the grunt work so you can experience a healthy crocodile(and friends) at your leisure!
Before a single animal gets to your event they must be removed from their enclosure, many of which are very large, and then secured into a travel container. In the case of our crocodilians it is of course a capture that must be done with great care for both our handler and the animals well being. If we think the animal is having a bad day we return it to the enclosure and bring another show animal. The animals are then packed according to the weather which includes cold packs in summer and warm packs in winter. We then drive up to 100 miles one way to see your birthday child or educate students at an assembly. In short there is allot of prep work that gets done BEFORE we even arrive to do the show itself. In allot of ways your event IS the fun part to us. It's also allot less dangerous than what we go through prior to getting to your location. In the end we feel it is worth it. All our events are a great deal of fun for us and the audience always loves them. The presentations are fun for everyone and we like doing them.
21. Will you show up?
In the 13 years Crocodile Encounter has been in business Crocodile Encounter has missed only two events. Even then it wasn't for a lack of trying our GPS simply couldn't locate an address and we drove around 2 hours looking for it but by that point it was to late for the event. The other was during the birth of our second son Brooks. The moral is we will try our hardest to get there even if we have bad directions but reserve the right to miss in the event of childbirth.(and we are not planning on having anymore children so you are ok in this regard) Your child's party comes once a year, you plan allot for your event, we will not disappoint you. It is astounding how many people ask us this question as it never even occurs to us not to show up for a scheduled event. Around Thursday or Friday each and every week we begin to receive calls from the parents of children who are having parties that weekend. They just want to ensure we show up as so and so other animal business burned them last year. WE WILL ALWAYS SHOW UP! We will not disappoint your child on his special day. Two missed events out of nearly 300+ shows annually for nearly a decade. The odds are way in your favor! Give Crocodile Encounter a try, we won't disappoint you.
1.Are the crocodiles safe? Crocodiles are not safe but Crocodile Encounter is 100% safe. The tour is guided and almost totally on boardwalk. The only way to get hurt is to jump the large fences and dive in the pool. Same applies to any zoo except we are even safer as a tour guide is always with your group.
2. How big a group can you facility handle? Crocodile Encounter adequately handles groups in the 350-400 student range. If your group is larger than 400ish students we suggest dividing into AM/PM groups for maximum experience.
3. Is there a place for lunch? We have a deck with picnic tables in the courtyard area as well as the large CHOMP pavilion. Students often choose to lunch with the tortoises along the boardwalk as well.
4. What is the cost per student? 2016-2017 public school student pricing is $6.00 per student. We do not charge public school teachers and school personnel. Parents are always welcome to join their child on the field trip and pay general admission upon arrival. If the school is covering the cost of the parents in the same check as the students accompanying parents can receive a discounted admission.
5. How many chaperone's are needed? Since each group is guided by our trained educators many chaperone's are not typically necessary. But we rely on your educators wisdom to discern which students may be of special concern.