Imagine coming face to face with a black mamba, the most dangerous snake in the world, when suddenly the box next to you starts to shake and rattle! This is just one of the many scary surprises that awaits you on a visit to our Dangerous Creatures exhibit.
Laid out in Indiana Jones style, this fascinating educational display first opened to the public in 2006 as a temporary showcase with just 24 exhibits. It proved so popular that it was moved to uShaka Village Walk three years later with 300 square metres of floor space housing many more fearsome creatures.
On entering the warehouse visitors find themselves in a jumble of crates and boxes, where a host of beautiful, interesting and dangerous animals are on display.
Following a winding pathway into the darkened interior entails ducking under ropes and crates, which creates a sense of excitement, especially among young explorers. A series of special effects at various points have been designed to startle and amuse visitors while heightening their sense of expectation. This innovative and fun approach to theming has made this display a real hit with guests, who love the element of surprise.
A range of animals may be seen here, including reptiles, arthropods and amphibians. The exterior features enticing spyholes into the interior which reveal a hairy tarantula and large kingsnakes.
If it’s a “touchy feely” experience you’re after, dare to put your arm into a box to feel an anaconda squeeze, or watch a robotic reptile performing manic manoeuvres in a sack.
Several species have also been chosen as interaction animals. Once a day one of these reptiles is removed from its enclosure so visitors can touch it. At the same time a herpetologist educates everyone present on biological or ecological issues pertaining to that reptile.
Visitor safety, comfort and entertainment have all been taken into consideration in the design of the Dangerous Creatures exhibit.
Reptile enclosures are double glazed and shatterproof, and all exhibits are locked.
Every exhibit displays specific information on that particular animal, along with interesting curator’s notes. A relations guide is also permanently stationed in the exhibit to engage with visitors.
Informative displays also create awareness of the illegal trade in reptiles and the decrease in reptiles’ natural habitat due to the impact of humans.
A successful breeding programme with dart frogs (Dendrobates sp.) has enabled Sea World to supply specimens to other South African facilities. A number of other species have successfully reproduced in the exhibit: giant Caledonean geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianu), green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps), gaboon adder (Bitis gabonica rhinoceros), western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), white-lipped tree viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) and bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps).
Dangerous Creatures is also home to a consignment of Madagascan animals confiscated at OR Tambo Airport en route from Madagascar to the Czech Republic. These include a veiled chameleon, black mamba, green mamba, gila monster lizard, day gecko, many kinds of tarantula, puff ddder and a monocled cobra.
The animals were collected illegally and many were almost dead by the time they reached the airport. The surviving animals needed a home, as the authorities declared that they could not be returned to Madagascar. Sea World, along with other animal care facilities in South Africa, came to the rescue.
Once you leave the Dangerous Creatures exhibit you’re likely to agree that your perceptions have changed – from fear to fascination – which is exactly what we were hoping.