Day Trips: Crocodile Encounter, Angleton

A toothy smile at this animal park means it's feeding time

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Crocodile Encounter in Angleton lets you get up-close and personal with the ill-tempered reptiles, but not too close nor too personal. The long-snouted beasts are, after all, ill-tempered reptiles – who wouldn't hesitate to bite the hand that feeds them.

The small private zoo opens daily for self-guided tours through the menagerie of animals, but amateur naturalists visiting during the feeding tours on Friday through Monday mornings get to see crocodiles and alligators snap whole chickens from the trainer's prosthesis – a 4-foot E-Z Reacher.

Our tour guide, Matthew, had all of his extremities and kept a respectable distance from the iron jaws with a Pavlovian response to his presence. In his free time Matthew removes nuisance alligators from backyards.

His fast-paced hourlong tour included instructions on how to tape an alligator's mouth shut. The description of the mechanics of an alligator's jaw didn't make it any more enticing to try to wrestle it closed.

All of the animals in the park arrived from other parks, were born at the site, or were nuisance animals that would've had to be euthanized if they didn't move to a facility like Crocodile Encounter.

The large number of small children on the tour was surprising. I don't know if the parents noticed or not, but the loglike monsters kept a creepy eye following the bite-sized humans venturing near the fence.

The animal park is well-done with boardwalks through the swamp with lots of shade, knowledgeable guides, and a bit of education mixed in with the show.

Crocodile Encounter is on the north side of Angleton, southwest of Houston off TX 288. Signage to the park is subtle, so look for directions at

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crocodiles, Angleton, Crocodile Encounter, alligators

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