• 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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd