• Germany's news in English
 

German man's crocodile passion attracts tourists

The Local · 28 Apr 2013, 10:25

Published: 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
Ex-Chancellor Schmidt rushed to intensive care
Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was taken to hospital on Tuesday. Photo: DPA.

Ex-Chancellor Schmidt rushed to intensive care

34 minutes ago

Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor in the 1970s and early 1980s, has been taken into intensive care at a Hamburg hospital after suffering from a vascular obstruction in his right leg.

Smartwatches to shine at Berlin mega gadget fair
Photo: DPA

Smartwatches to shine at Berlin mega gadget fair

1 hour ago

Sleeker and sexier smartwatches are expected to premiere this week in Berlin at one of the world's biggest consumer electronics shows, with both phone manufacturers and watchmakers jostling for a share of the fast-growing market.

Poland to deploy army to hunt for Nazi gold train
An old mine shaft at Walbrzych in Poland. Photo: DPA

Poland to deploy army to hunt for Nazi gold train

1 hour ago

Poland said on Tuesday it would deploy the military to look for an alleged Nazi "gold train" that sparked global fascination after two anonymous treasure hunters claimed they had pinpointed where it is buried.

Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin
Excavation of the mosque site outside Berlin. Photo: Freie Universität

Germany's first mosque excavated near Berlin

15 hours ago

Archaeologists have excavated the remains of Germany's oldest mosque on the outskirts of Berlin, a team from the capital city's Free University (FU) announced on Monday.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place
The Malaysia Airlines plane which disappeared on March 8th 2014. Photo: Laurent ERRERA / Wikimedia Commons.

Kiel scientists: MH370 search in wrong place

16 hours ago

German scientists have challenged conventional wisdom on the crash site of the MH370, the Malaysia Airlines plane missing since March 2014, suggesting the search is being conducted in the wrong place.

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn
What's not to love about the start of Lebkuchen season? Photo: DPA

Five reasons to love Germany in autumn

16 hours ago

September 1st may be the first day of autumn, but it's not all sad news for those living in Germany. Here are five reasons why we should welcome autumn with open arms.

Opinion
Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps
Students in a lecture theatre at Cologne University. Photo: DPA

Studying in Germany left me down in the dumps

17 hours ago

Finnish student Juuso Nisula moved to Cologne to study business administration, but found a catalogue of failings instead in the model of German educational efficiency he was expecting. He explains just what went wrong - and how to fix it - in an opinion piece republished by The Local.

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts
Photo:DPA

Teen fined for sharing 13-year-old ex's sexts

18 hours ago

A court in Berlin has ordered a teenager to pay €500 in damages to his 13-year-old ex-girlfriend after sharing intimate pictures of her over WhatsApp, the girl's lawyer has revealed.

Migrant crisis
Munich police swamped with refugee donations
A woman working for Refugee Aid Munich (Flüchtlingshilfe München) hands a soft toy to a refugee child. Photo: DPA

Munich police swamped with refugee donations

1 day ago

UPDATE: As over 1,000 refugees arrived in Munich from Hungary by train on Tuesday, police in the Bavarian capital said they were "overwhelmed" by the amount of food, water and other supplies donated by local people to those in need.

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

Löw backs Schweini after shaky United start

19 hours ago

Germany coach Joachim Löw is backing Bastian Schweinsteiger to brush off his shaky start at Manchester United when he captains his country in Friday's key Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
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

6,937
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd