What The Croc?! Old Kent Road Could Be Getting An Alligator Park

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 50 months ago

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

What The Croc?! Old Kent Road Could Be Getting An Alligator Park
An artist's impression. Presumably the alligators won't be roaming around next to visitors...

How many times did you re-read that headline then?

It's true though; developer Avanton is seeking permission to build an alligator park and farm inside a listed gas holder on Old Kent Road.

How do you fancy running into this on the Old Kent Road?

The gas holder would essentially be turned into a multi-storey glass conservatory with glass verandas. At 20-metres-deep, says the developer, the gas holder will be a good habitat for the scaly residents, who would have a series of deep water features at their disposal. The park would be open to visitors year-round, although it's not yet known how many alligators it would house.

A visitor centre and educational facility would also feature as part of the attraction — which is being put forward as part of a £230m mixed use regeneration project, featuring 'hundreds' of new homes, landscaped parkland and over 50,000 sqft for commercial premises.

The proposed site for the alligator park and farm

Many will, rightly, be concerned for the wellbeing of the animals.

Katheryn Wise, World Animal Protection wildlife campaigns manager told Londonist:

We are extremely concerned about plans for an alligator park alongside a property development in London. Alligators are wild animals that should be in their natural environment and not as part of an attraction at a property development. Not only is the busy and noisy environment of a property on the Old Kent Road no place for a wild animal, the transportation and handling of these alligators is likely to cause them unnecessary stress, fear and anxiety.  Wild animal exploitation to boost the profits of a property developer is the wrong message to be sending and we are urging the company to rethink their decision.

Avanton said it 'would not undertake such a project without further consultation with reptile and environmental experts.'

To ensure the correct temperatures to survive, breed and lay eggs, special shielded glass would be used on the gas holder, says Avanton, while sliding glass panels in the conservatory would enable the temperature to be raised or lowered according to the animals' needs.

Brize Norton in Oxfordshire already has a Crocodiles of the World attraction, featuring crocodile and alligators, while London Zoo has Philippine crocodiles, but no alligators.

There remains a wider argument on whether parks and zoos like this should exist at all.

Update: Avanton has since informed Londonist that the alligator park and farm is in fact one of three concepts for the gas holder, the other of which are a lido and an 'artistic garden'. Presumably neither of these will involve alligators, and therefore seem more feasible options.

Last Updated 17 January 2020