One of the most frequently visited tourist spots in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, formerly called and still more commonly referred to as the Crocodile Farming Institute. Ask any local where “Crocodile Farm” is and he would know where to point. However, not many local Palaweños know that this popular tourist attraction is also a research institute. Here are a few more things about the conservation center and why more foreign tourists should come check it out.
First, the conservation center has everything one needs to know and experience about Philippine crocodiles. It is the biggest and most popular crocodile conservation area in the entire country. The 8-acre facility is home to about 4,000 crocodiles, and where these amazing reptiles can grow, thrive and reproduce. It is primarily concerned with two crocodile species: C. porosus and C. mindorensis. Recently constructed is a special room for baby crocodiles. What’s really inviting about this room is that visitors can pet the baby predators, with supervision from their handlers, of course. The bigger crocodiles but not over 5 feet are kept behind the building, while those over 5 feet are in an open pond outside for tourists to see and take pictures of. Visitors can also feed them from a bridge. Official feeding time is Monday and Thursday afternoons.
Besides the crocodile farm and nursery, the center also provides a special veterinary facility, a “crocodile hospital” of sorts, which cares for sick and injured crocodiles.
Two, there is a mini-zoo inside for visitors who may not necessarily be crocodile fans. The zoo is the only one of its kind in the world because it showcases an array of animals that can only be found in Palawan, such as the Palawan peacock pheasant, Palawan mouse deer and monitor lizard. There are also monkeys and birds that freely roam around the zoo premises. Near the zoo is a souvenir shop where visitors can buy exciting items made from crocodile skin.
Finally, it is near the city center and admission fee is only P40. That is not even a dollar. With such little amount and a few minutes getting there, tourists get to experience watching these unique reptiles in their natural habitat.
Here is how to get to the Crocodile Farm. From the capital city of Puerto Princesa, the main commercial and entertainment hub of Palawan, get a tricycle or jeepney going to Barangay Irawan. The tricycle and jeepney are the two most common forms of transport. The jeepney is more spacious but a ride in a tricycle is more cultural, although less comfortable as passengers are exposed to more smoke, road bumps and noise. There is not much traffic in the province, and so Barangay Irawan is just 30 to 40 minutes away from Puerto Princesa.
Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center is open for public viewing from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM from Monday to Friday, and 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday. The center is run and maintained by the the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENR-PAWB).