Gr8 Getaway: Croc Encounters in Tampa

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Croc Encounters in Tampa lets families get up close with all kinds of reptiles. During the guided tour, families can hold alligators, feed crocodiles, and learn all about these animals.

“It teaches them about animals we can’t interact with daily. The ones we can’t have at the house. I definitely don’t have room for any of these,” said Jolina Reising, mother.

Founder John Paner believes interaction helps clear up misconceptions, especially about alligators. “They expect it to be violent, they expect it to be very sharp and hard. A lot of people expect it to be like a turtle shell, and it’s certainly not. It’s a soft animal, especially the little ones,” said Paner.

Croc Encounters is a non-profit sanctuary, so animals get to live out their years in an oasis. “All the animals here are rescues for one reason or another. Either someone’s pet, or an animal that was confiscated. Or an animal we got from a zoo. Or even some that were nuisance trapped,” he said, “Without us they wouldn’t have a place to go.”

Guided tours cost $99 for a family of five, and reservations are required. Or explore on your own on Saturdays for just $5 a person. Get more information here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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