Last fall we went to the Crocodile Bank for a 1st grade birthday party. Today we went again for a Consulate Kids spring break outing. It was that or stay home to do homework and piano practice. The kids practically jumped at the chance to get out of the house to a destination that didn't involve shots, and didn't grumble (much) about waking up before 8 a.m.
The Crocodile Bank is actually one of those little bright spots around Chennai as far as destinations go. It's only worth about 1 1/2 - 2 hours out of your morning, and takes about 45 minutes to get to by car, but it's quiet and shady and has a (small) variety of reptiles. What it lacks in variety, it makes up for in numbers. A couple of the pits have hundreds of crocs in them, and the sign that warns of sitting on the wall or putting your hands over the edge is no joke.
Crocs can jump, as we saw when feeding time came up. It wouldn't take any effort to snatch a kids arm. But that's part of the draw of the Crocodile Bank, you're up close and personal with these dinosaurs. And might I say, they are quite quite ugly? Not just a little ugly - really ugly. But they play their role in the ecosystem and I won't hold their lack of pretties against them too much.
Actually, there was one croc that caught my attention. It's just so darn interesting looking with its long pointy snout. Another one of its kind hangs about the bottom of the pond and I wondered if it was actually alive. Nicholas and I hung about long enough to see it raise its snout for air, which was lucky for us since some crocs can hold their breath for hours.
And like I said, it's not just crocodiles and alligators that are bred for conservation at the Crocodile Bank. Snakes and turtles are also kept and an extensive number of poisonous snakes are milked regularly to provide antivenom for much of south India. I didn't watch the milking this time, though the kids did. Several of the snakes are allowed to roam free while waiting their turn, slithering among hundreds of covered pots holding their breathren. It's rather eery and unnerving.
The kids had a good time, holding an assortment of baby animals. I don't know what it is about pythons but the kids just love them right along with the baby croc and the turtle.
After the Bank, we stopped by Basera for lunch. With an outdoor playground, indoor airconditioning, and fish&chips on the menu, the 16 kids, 5 adults and 1 baby were all happy. I won't mention the hair I found on my roti (though it appeared to be cooked on at least), because the rest of the food was quite good. And our bill ended up Rs4400. Right around $110 for all of us. Can't beat that for food, drinks, appetizers, and 10 bottles of water. It's worth a stop if you're on the ECR.