They’re deadly and reluctantly retired — dozens of saltwater crocodiles so dangerous they’ve been plucked from the wild to live out their days at Western Australia’s only crocodile park.
- Crocodiles that have been removed from Kimberley waterways are taken to the park
- Most of the 30 adult crocodiles in the park are male and more than 50 years old
- Valerie Douglas took over the park eight years ago after the sudden death of her husband
Better known as a tourist attraction, the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park also functions as a home for the crocodiles of the Kimberley that have been removed from local waterways because of the risk they pose to swimmers.
“They are all real characters and they’ve all got quite a story as to how they got here,” park owner Valerie Douglas said.
“They are a very dangerous animal so you’re never really going to love them like a pet, but you do definitely come to respect them.
“They’re just so beautifully designed.”
Ms Douglas took over the park after the sudden death of her husband, Malcom Douglas, in a car accident on the property eight years ago.
There are about 30 adult crocodiles at the park, most are male and more than 50 years old, and have been captured in the wild after threatening humans.
They have nicknames that only hint at their strength and aggression.
Fatso: Could have ‘demolished’ intruder
Fatso is a five-metre male who arrived from the Northern Territory in the 1990s after being removed from the Victoria River.
He made headlines in 2010 when a drunken man broke in to the crocodile park and entered Fatso’s enclosure.
The man attempted to climb on to Fatso’s back in an effort to “connect” with the animal spiritually.
But the only connection that happened was Fatso’s teeth connecting with the man’s leg, resulting in deep cuts to the bone that required surgery.
At the time, police said the 36-year-old man was lucky to be alive.
“It was a cold night and Fatso’s reflexes were a bit slower than they could have been, otherwise he really could have been completely demolished,” Ms Douglas said.
“He’d be in pieces.”
Aggro: ‘The greatest’
Aggro comes from exotic pedigree, bred by a Benedictine monk in the remote mission town of Kalumburu.
Ms Douglas says Father Sanz (full name Father Seraphim Sanz de Galdeano) started a small crocodile farm in the 1970s to try to create an industry for local Aboriginal people.
But the project never took off and when Father Sanz retired, his ten crocodiles were offloaded to Mr Douglas.
Ms Douglas says 4.7-metre Aggro was one of her late husband’s favourites.
“He’s just the greatest. He always performs, and he’s placid and nice to his female, which is rare,” she said.
“He’s one of our main stars. He’s in perfect proportion which is really unusual, and has the most perfectly-shaped head.”
Maniac: ‘Quite terrifying’
Maniac was described by Mr Douglas as the most dangerous crocodile he had ever encountered, and Ms Douglas said he has not mellowed with age.
“He’s a wild croc, really wild,” she warned.
Maniac arrived from Carlton Hill Station in East Kimberley, where he had been killing and eating horses as they drank from the river.
He had a reputation for fierceness and was moved to a new enclosure because the original feeding fences weren’t high enough to contain his lunges.
“He has no fear,” Ms Douglas said.
“He’ll just charge up and freak the tour guides out. It can be quite terrifying.”
One-Eyed Willie: Close-ish encounter with supermodel
One-Eyed Willie is famous for two things: surviving being shot in the head, and getting a little too close to a certain Australian supermodel.
One-Eyed Willie’s home was the lagoon at Willie Creek, where Elle Macpherson once went for a dip during a tour of the Kimberley.
Later a pilot reported seeing a very large crocodile skulking in that same waterway — definitely a closer encounter than what authorities would recommend.
Things came to a head in 2003 when a police marksman was brought in to shoot One-Eyed Willie.
The resilient reptile survived — minus one eye — and was rehomed at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park.
Henry: Arrived in style
Henry was being kept as a pet (keeping crocodiles as pets is now highly illegal) by Vic Cox on Cockatoo Island, home to the luxury retreat of tycoon Alan Bond.
After a 29-year residency on the island, the 3.7-metre animal was taken to the crocodile park in style, flying aboard a small plane to Broome in 1987.