Maniac, the giant saltwater crocodile

Maniac is a male saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). He is from Australia and was born in captivity in 1970. We felt it important to get a young crocodile that had been born in captivity - big crocs tend to get very stressed when transported.  So, finding one that was already used to intrusions by humans makes a much better traveler.

Maniac is 16 feet 2 inches long, no fudging, no exaggerating - according to our friend George Craig of Australia, they have the potential to get up to 22 feet long and to live to be around 100! Maniac currently weighs roughly 1,350 pounds (based on his documented weight upon arrival and his gain since we have had him - let's face it, we don't have a scale big enough for him, nor do we have anyone big enough to put him on it if we did!)

We are very proud of our giant croc; he is a truly spectacular sight to see. In fact, it has been suggested we change his name to "OH MY GOSH!" as that is the first thing most people say upon seeing him for the first time. Maniac is in perfect condition with a huge head, lots of big sharp teeth, and strikingly beautiful coloration with large scutes (large armored scales) across his back.

Learn More About Saltwater Crocodiles

Learn more about crocodilians


A giant croc like Maniac is truly a magnificent sight to see.  Be sure to come visit him while you’re at Reptile Gardens.

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How did we get Maniac?

We had been searching for some years to find a giant crocodile to replace Killer, our huge Nile crocodile who had been captured in 1956 on an African expedition. Luckily, in 2004 while working with a consortium of Australian zoological parks, we were offered a large crocodile that was then living at an attraction in Sydney called Wonderland Sydney. The park was due to close permanently, and they were looking for a good home for their big croc, Maniac.

Australia has very strict laws prohibiting almost all export of their native reptile species. However, since we were already working with the Australian government on importing reptiles for the Australian zoos, the process went relatively smoothly. Although to be honest, Curator Terry Phillip spent literally hundreds of hours over the course of three months dealing with the Wonderland staff and the Australian government.

The critical task of deciding if Maniac would suit our needs and, subsequently, handling the capture and crating of this amazing creature was the job of our Head Curator, Ken Earnest (one of the world's foremost authorities on crocodilians, and reptiles in general), and he quickly made plans to go to Australia and handle this delicate process.

Building a crate the size of a small bedroom, filling it with a crocodile from Sydney, Australia, and bringing it to the heart of the Great Plains of America was no small feat. Maniac flew from Sydney to Los Angeles and from there to Denver, Colorado. No airplanes large enough to accommodate such a large crate in their cargo hold fly in to Rapid City, South Dakota, so we rented a truck and drove Maniac the final 400 miles.

Once here, it took the help and skill of our friends at SECO Construction with their extra-large fork lift to get the massive 1+ton crate and crocodile out of the truck and lifted into position for the release - 39 hours after he was captured and crated, Maniac strolled out into his beautiful new enclosure at Reptile Gardens.

Check out the Gator Show and learn what being a crocodilian is all about.  Watch as our professional keepers demonstrate the strength and agility of these cold-blooded animals.

Crocodile Fun Facts

SPECIAL NOTE: There has been so much written in books and magazines and stated on animal programs on TV about gigantic crocs. Many of the “facts” in these stories are often inaccurate and distorted, exaggerated, or pure fabrication.

  1. There is no genuine 20-foot crocodile in captivity anywhere in the world.
  2. The largest crocodile in captivity is Cassius at Marineland Melanesia on Green Island, Australia. Cassius holds the Guinness World Record for the largest crocodile in captivity at 18 feet long.
  3. The 2 largest crocodiles in captivity are Cassius at Marineland Melanesia on Green Island, Australia and Baru, who is the largest crocodile in the western hemisphere.  Cassius is huge and he is a true 18 feet long and weighs approximately 1,500 pounds—that makes him the largest saltwater crocodile in North America!
  4. The largest crocodile ever accurately measured and recorded is Lolong. Lolong was measured at 20 feet 3 inches long.  In September 2011, over 100 people worked to bring Lolong into captivity.  Lolong was estimated to be at least 50 years old when he was measured in 2011 and died in 2013.
  5. Along with Maniac, another very large croc in the U.S. is Maximo, a giant saltwater crocodile living at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. He is accurately measured at 15 feet 3 inches.
  6. There are species, such as the Nile crocodile, the Orinoco crocodile, and a couple of others that get large but none get over 20 feet long (there just aren't any truly reliable records of any crocodile over 22 feet).
  7. There is a rumor that has been floating around for decades about a croc killed in India many, many years ago that measured 33 feet long. Like most giant reptile stories this one proved to be false. A subsequent measuring of its skull in the British Museum (skull measurements are very accurate for telling the length of crocodiles) showed the animal to have been less than 16 feet long.



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Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!