Australian Reptile Park
Entrance to the Australian Reptile Park
|Date opened||1948 (1996 at current location)|
|Location||Somersby, New South Wales, Australia|
|Land area||22 acres (8.9 ha)|
|No. of animals||2,000+|
|No. of species||400+|
The Australian Reptile Park is located at Somersby on the Central Coast, New South Wales in Australia. It is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) (a one-hour drive) North of Sydney, and is just off the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. The park is home to a variety of reptiles, including snakes, lizards and crocodiles, as well as other Australian animals, such as koalas, kangaroos, cassowaries and Tasmanian devils.
The park is heavily involved in snake and spider venom collection for use in the production of Antivenom and is credited for saving the lives of thousands. It is an institutional member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA).
- 1 History
- 2 Brief chronology
- 3 Animals
- 4 Attractions
- 5 Past Attractions
- 6 Education
- 7 Television
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
1948 - Ocean Beach Aquarium operates at Umina Beach
1955 - Ocean Beach Aquarium contributes to production of first antivenene to Taipan envenomation
1959 - Australian Reptile Park commences at Wyoming
1962 - Reptile Park contributes to availability of a full range of antivenenes
1963 – 'Ploddy' (originally named Dino), the dinosaur erected, the first of Australia's big icons
1968 - First noctarium in southern hemisphere opens
1970 - Eric Worrell receives MBE recognising his role in producing antivenenes
1972 – Captive breeding of Cassowaries
1985 - New paint job and revamped exhibits stimulates a boom in visitation, saving the Park
1986 - Eric Worrell dies
1989 - Giant Croc transported from the NT in a jet plane as a new exhibit - named 'Eric'
1992 - John and Robyn Weigel become principal owners of the business, and make the decision to relocate the Park.
1996 - Park closes at Wyoming (July 14)
1996 - Reptile Park relocates to Somersby and reopens (Sept)
2000 - Just past midnight on 17 July, most of the main park building was destroyed when a faulty electrical wiring caused a fire. Park staff helped fire crews, but ultimately the building was lost along with most of the hundreds of reptiles and frogs that had been maintained in the building. With a lot of work from the staff, and support from the city and from other zoos around Australia, the zoo was able to re-open its doors on 9 September 2000, just over seven weeks after the fire.
2007 - A main attraction to the park "Eric" passes away. He is replaced by Elvis the 4.5 metre male saltwater crocodile
2008 - Park Director, John Weigel, is awarded Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to Australian Tourism and the production of snake and spider antivenoms.
2013 - the Australian Reptile Park remains the sole supplier of land snake and funnel-web spider venom to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) for the nation's anti-venom program. Over its 60-year history the park has assisted in saving over 15,000 lives.
2015 - General Manager and Head of Conservation, Tim Faulkner, is named "Conservationist of the Year" for 2015 by The Australian Geographic Society
Reptiles at the Park include American alligators, crocodiles, turtles, tortoises, skinks, Komodo dragons, monitor lizards, geckos, iguanas, pythons, taipans, brown snakes, death adders, and a King cobra.
The Park also houses Australian mammals and birds including koalas, grey-headed flying foxes, eastern grey kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, wallabies, dingos, platypus, echidnas, ring tailed possums, and cassowaries.
The park is home to a large replica diplodocus initially named Dino, sometimes said to be the very first of Australia's Big Things. This structure had portions of its legs removed and was moved to Somersby when the park changed location. In the light of additional media attention the dinosaur was renamed "Ploddy".
Elvis the crocodile
Elvis the crocodile arrived at the park in September 2007, and has been dubbed Australia's crankiest crocodile. Elvis was originally from Darwin in the Northern Territory. He was removed from the wild as he was attacking fishing boats in Darwin Harbour and was taken to a crocodile farm to be used as a breeder as he was too big for re-release into the wild. Every female that was introduced to Elvis during his time at the crocodile farm came to an untimely end due to Elvis' aggressive behaviour towards them. This caused Elvis to be removed to an isolation pen until he was moved onto the Australian Reptile Park after the death of their previous crocodile "Eric".
In December 2011, Elvis lost two teeth during an attack on park staff and their lawnmowers. He continues to wow visitors to the Park at feeding time when he shows off his aggression towards the keepers and his food.
Lost World of Reptiles
Following the devastation of the Reptile Park by the fire of July 2000 the process of reconstruction presented a rare opportunity to create something truly original. Over a period of only 18 months following the fire, teams of highly skilled workers transformed an enormous, burned out shell of a building, into one of the most unusual zoological attractions anywhere. Entry to the exhibition can only be gained through the gaping jaws of a 30-metre-long model crocodile. Just inside the croc-mouth, an animated Egyptian mummy urges visitors through to the Lost World of Reptiles. Upon entering the spacious recreation of Kom Ombo, awe-struck visitors are confronted by the five metre tall crocodile god Sobek, guardian of the pharaohs and ambassador of the reptile kingdom. The Lost World of Reptiles is home to some of the park's reptile collection and is many visitors highlight of the visit.
One of the most exciting Australian zoo developments in a very long time is Spider World. Visitors to the Australian Reptile Park have the opportunity to find out everything they ever wanted to know about spiders - while having an absolute hoot in the process. Spider World puts the 'fun' back into 'funny', while at the same time providing visitors with a greatly improved understanding and education of the eight-legged world. Even self-confessed arachnophobics that have experienced the exhibition typically leave in stitches of laughter.
Eric the crocodile
A crocodile named Eric, born in 1947 in Australia's Northern Territory, was featured for many years at the park. He was a star attraction and had a fan club of over 10,000 members across the world. Every year Eric consumed his own body weight of various animals such as chicken, goat and fish.
Eric had been implicated in the disappearance of two indigenous children in the 1980s, and was captured for the safety of the community. He was first taken to Darwin Crocodile Farm, where he bit off the heads of two female crocodiles with whom he was supposed to mate, and lost his right rear foot in a duel with a fellow crocodile. In 1989 he arrived by special freighter jet at the Australian Reptile Park and became a major attraction. He was named after the park's founder Eric Worrell who had died in 1987.
Eric the crocodile died on 30 June 2007 from a systemic infection, exacerbated because staff couldn't treat him due to power outages caused by storms in the area. His vet, Peter Nosworthy, believes age made him susceptible to the infection, while his size made it impossible to administer intensive care. At 5.6m long and 700 kg, Eric was the largest crocodile in New South Wales at the time of his death. A memorial to Eric is now at the rear of the park.
The Australian Reptile Park is a frequent feature on Australian factual television series Bondi Vet, usually involving General Manager Tim Faulkner calling Dr. Chris Brown to the park, or taking an animal either to Chris' clinic or the closer clinic owned by Dr. Peter Nosworthy. As of 2014 Tim became a part of the regular cast with a segment airing in every episode.
The Wild Life of Tim Faulkner
The Australian Reptile Park is also shown in the spin-off show The Wild Life of Tim Faulkner, which focuses primarily on Tim Faulkner's animal-related activities. "The Wild Life of Tim Faulkner" is shown on Channel 9 and National Geographic Channel and has a worldwide viewership of 180 million per episode.
- "Park Information". reptilepark.com.au. Australian Reptile Park. Archived from the original on 16 February 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- "Member Location Map". zooaquarium.org.au. ZAA. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- "Rising from the Ashes". reptilepark.com.au. Australian Reptile Park. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- "Research and Venoms-How is Antivenom Produced?". Venom Production. Australian Reptile Park. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary". ozanimals.com. OzAnimals Travel. Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- "Snakes, lizards and alligator stolen from Australian Reptile Park on the NSW central coast". ABC News (Australia). 15 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "Elvis the crocodile charges at zookeepers who use lawnmowers as shields at the Australian Reptile Park". 28 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Famous croc implicated in missing children case dies". news.com.au. News Limited. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- "Largest croc falls to tiny bug". dailytelegraph.com.au. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
- Thompson, Chris. "Australian Snake Bites". usyd.edu.au. The University of Sydney. Retrieved 14 May 2010.[permanent dead link]