Heading northwards on the airport road Jichang Lu机场路, the sculpture of a golden crocodile lies majestically upon a high pedestal, with glittering rows of teeth protruding high into the eyeshot of passing motor vehicles.
Since we passed the Crocodile Centre鳄鱼中心 on the way home from the Miao Stockade Village, we decided to take more advantage of the unusually hot late autumn weather, and let the little one see some real crocodiles and other animals for the first time.
Here’s a small tip we learnt the hard way this afternoon. The entry fee has gone up since our last visit a couple of years ago, but it’s possible to buy them at a discount using the ‘Tuan-gou团购,’ feature on Wechat Wallet. The unfortunate catch is you must purchase them a day in advance, so definitely plan ahead!
Over the past six years since our last visit, I have to say that not much has changed.
The rather park still gives the visitor a distinctly antiquated feeling, but nevertheless, there were still plenty of large crocs basking away in the balmy sunshine today, obviously too cosy to show any interest in the raw chicken wings tourists were dangling over the fences.
Unlike the Panda Breeding Facility in Chengdu, where you can see the latest newborns through incubation room windows, there doesn’t seem to be any public display of recently hatched crocodiles.
Inside the park, the ‘ground’ level has the main crocodile enclosures, lizards tourists are free to stroke, old turtles, caged monkeys, and a skulk of arctic foxes.
Up the steep hill, you pass an aviary with mostly peacocks and budgerigars on the way to the top, where you can see pythons, a domestic pet’s corner, a line of glass tanks home to a range of small amphibians, a quiet teahouse. The building that housed the giant crocodile well over twenty feet in length was missing for some reason today.
The final attraction is a bird show theatre where staff half heartedly direct parrots over mid-air trip wires, and the rather disinterested tourists file out quickly en masse once the show reaches its nonchalant climax.
Despite my downbeat tone, I would still say the Crocodile Center is worth taking children along for a morning or afternoon, if you’re around in Chongqing long enough. It’s just the park is in desperate need of a refurbishment, both for the tourists and residents. Also, if there were more activities, informative media about the animals, the possibility of seeing newly bred crocodiles, and clean recreational facilities, the experience could be so much better!