NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A pair of rare reptiles was hatched at the Audubon Zoo.
These are fertile – and historic - times at the Audubon Zoo Reptile Encounter. In recent weeks, the zoo welcomed the first-ever births of critically endangered false gharials at Audubon.
Gharials, a freshwater crocodilian native to Southeast Asia with a very thin and elongated snout, have been housed at Audubon Zoo since the mid-1980s.
However, the zoo states that the species has not been bred in captivity anywhere in the United States since 2009 and never at Audubon Zoo until now.
Two gharials were hatched in September, doubling the Audubon population to four. Currently, there are only about 30 gharials on exhibit in American zoos.
The species is considered to be one of the most critically threatened of all crocodilians, and was alarmingly close to extinction in the 1970s. The major threat is habitat loss due to human encroachment and disruption of populations through fishing and hunting activities.
Of a clutch of about 20 eggs, two were successfully fertilized, said Melanie Litton, senior reptile keeper at Audubon. Audubon Zoo will keep one gharial while the other will go to the Houston Zoo.