It’s always great news at a zoo when a new baby animal is born, especially when they are part of an endangered species: each new birth is a step towards ensuring the survival from extinction.
Now, one zoo is celebrating the birth of four gharial crocodiles, an extremely rare and critically endangered species.
The Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, recently announced the hatching of four gharial crocodiles, which they called a “monumental conservation success.”
“History is made,” they wrote on Facebook.
The birth is important because of how rare the species is: gharial crocodiles are critically endangered, with only about 200 reproducing adults left in the wild, according to the zoo.
Births are also rare in captivity: the Fort Worth Zoo says they are the only institution in the United States to have produced multiple offspring of the species. Only one other institution has produced a single offspring, back in 2016.
“We are so proud of our ectotherms team for this historic achievement!” the zoo wrote.
“The Zoo is incredibly proud to announce this groundbreaking conservation success, quadrupling the number of births to ever take place in the U.S.,” the zoo said in a statement, per NBC DFW.
The repopulation effort was over a decade in the making, but low fertility among eggs — reportedly a common occurrence in the species — made things difficult. But now, their hard work has finally paid off.
The gharial crocodile, also known as the gavial or fish-eating crocodile, is one of the longest of all crocodile species and are known for their distinct long, narrow snout that makes them well suited for catching fish.
But the species has faced decades of declining population numbers, caused by habitat loss and depletion of fish. They have been listed as a critically endangered species on the IUCN Red List since 2007.
According to NBC, the Fort Worth Zoo is home to 4 of the 35 gharial crocodiles living in US zoos. They are all between 42-43 years old; the species has a lifespan of about 50-60 years.
Visitors to the zoo got a very rare treat when the newborns arrived, and were quickly won over by the unique baby animals.
“I’ve been coming to the Fort Worth Zoo once a week for 15 years,” visitor Sharon Martin told NBC DFW. “The minute I saw them, I fell in love. I got to hear one of the babies actually vocalizing, which was a teeny tiny little sound.” “
“It was amazing to just get to be close to them… because they are so hard to breed.”
Wow, what adorable newborns and such great news for this critically endangered species!
Please share this amazing news if you love animals! ❤️🐊