• Germany edition
 
German man's crocodile passion attracts tourists
Photo:DPA

German man's crocodile passion attracts tourists

Published: 28 Apr 2013 10:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Apr 2013 10:25 GMT+02:00

Around 1,300 people live in the Brandenburg village of Golzow - including Karl-Heinz Voigts who, thanks to remarkably lax local laws on keeping exotic animals, has amassed a collection of 21 crocodiles.

The 56-year-old first got one in 1987, while the village was still behind the Iron Curtain. Now, along with his 20 rabbits and a bunch of turtles, Voigts keeps four large crocodiles in his heated winter garden and some more baby crocs in his sitting room and conservatory.

His favourite crocodile is 40 years old. He used to roam freely across the grass like the rabbits do now, but Voigts' girlfriend gifted him a fence to put around the pond as she was getting nervous while hanging out the washing.

Voigts is popular in the village, where a sales assistant at the local supermarket says “Crocodile-Heini” is a treasure to the community.

Keeping crocodiles is not illegal in Brandenburg, although elsewhere in Germany, it’s a different story. In the states of Berlin, Hesse and Thuringia, individuals are explicitly forbidden from keeping dangerous animals. In Bavaria there are strong laws governing their upkeep.

And according to the German Society for Animal Protection (Deutsche Tierschutzbund), in many other states, individuals seeking to keep dangerous animals must be granted a special exemption.

But in other states, like Brandenburg there are next to no guidelines.

“The rules at state level are not just ambiguous, they are completely confusing,” says Marius Tünte of the German Society for Animal Protection.

“In Brandenburg you can do you what you want – almost,” says Voigt.

Frank Plücken of the Brandenburg Environment Office says that owners of exotic pets in Brandenburg have to fulfil three criteria. They must undertake measures to protect the species, possess relevant expertise and provide suitable enclosure to prevent escape. In addition, they must register their animals.

There are no official figures for the number of crocodiles in Germany. Voigt estimates that there are around 500 keepers of 1,000 crocodiles, as well as bogus breeders who keep their undocumented pets in their bathtubs.

Voigt's private crocodile farm attracts more than 2,000 visitors to Golzow each year.

DPA/The Local/kkf

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost
Former GDR political prisoners Hartmut (l) and Gerda Stachowitz in a East Berlin prison which has stood empty for 20 years. Photo: DPA

Victims of GDR regime get benefit boost

Benefit payments to former political prisoners of ex-communist East Germany (GDR) will be raised to send an "important message" 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the government said on Wednesday. READ  

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises
Apartments in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees cap on city rent rises

Germany's cabinet agreed on Wednesday to cap ballooning property rents in high-demand urban neighbourhoods in a law set to come into force early next year. READ  

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find
Passengers are delayed at Tegel Airport. Photo: DPA

Berlin flights disrupted by WWII bomb find

UPDATE: The discovery of a US World War II bomb disrupted flights at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on Wednesday afternoon, with no flights taking off or landing for 30 minutes. The bomb has now been defused but later flights are still delayed. READ  

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'
A photo allegedly showing guards abusing one refugee. Photo: DPA/Police

Refugee abuse guards 'nicknamed the SS'

A group of guards who allegedly abused refugees in an asylum centre in western Germany were nicknamed “the SS” after Hitler's stormtroopers, according to one of their colleagues. Photos of guards abusing refugees have sparked a backlash in Germany against security firms. READ  

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants
First prize went to Nestle for its sugary baby food. Photo: Foodwatch

Nestle wins the food prize no one wants

A food watchdog presented Nestle with a prize to avoid on Wednesday for the cheekiest false advertising of the year. The runner-up was a chicken soup with no chicken in a vote of almost 160,000 Germans. READ  

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home
One of the two A340 planes which are reserved for the Chancellor and government leaders. Photo: DPA

Merkel's VIP jet set to fly soldiers home

One of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s VIP jets is set to be used to ferry soldiers home who are stuck in Afghanistan, due to ongoing problems with the German military’s transport planes. READ  

German firms top EU lobbying list
Siemens was the highest ranked German company when it came to spending on EU lobbying, according to the register. Photo: DPA

German firms top EU lobbying list

Germany companies are among the biggest spenders when it comes to EU lobbying to influence decision makers in Brussels. There are more German lobbying organizations registered than from any other country in Europe but Belgium. READ  

City starts beer for alcoholics project
Photo: DPA

City starts beer for alcoholics project

A city in western Germany will start a controversial project on Wednesday to employ alcohol and drug addicts to clean the streets in return for beer, tobacco, food and small amounts of cash. READ  

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters
A German Eurofighter. Photo: DPA

Fault forces Germany to cut Eurofighters

A manufacturing fault has been discovered in the troubled Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes, Germany's defence ministry said on Tuesday, announcing it was suspending deliveries of the sophisticated jets. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,183
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd