September 2, 2023 10:48 pm
Fort Worth, Texas, The United States
Forth Worth Zoo have become the first zoo in the United States to welcome the hatching of multiple offspring within a clutch of gharial. The critically endangered crocodiles are near extinction in the wild with the population at the zoo serving as a critical lifeline.
Only one other zoo has bred the species within the US. They welcomed a single hatchling back in 2016.
To make this occasion even more special the four hatchlings come from two clutches from two separate females which live at the zoo.
“The team is incredibly proud and excited to finally have gharial hatchlings,” said Vicky Poole, associate curator of ectotherms. “Staff closely watched the developing eggs for the past few months and with each sign of life, our superstitious anticipation grew, just like a baseball pitcher throwing a no-hitter game. We were all pretty emotional with each hatching.”
Just 35 gharial are housed in the United States across nine institutions. These individuals will add a new bloodline to the population helping to strengthen the gene pool.
“With this scientific breakthrough, we will be able to contribute our research and expertise to other zoos and institutions across the world in effort to bolster the population of this critically endangered species,” said Michael Fouraker, Fort Worth Zoo executive director.
Fort Worth Zoo have put decades of effort in to successfully breeding the gharial with a view to increasing their population. This began with crafting a habitat for the species as part of the Zoo’s herpetarium, the Museum of Living Art which opened in 2010.
Features of the habitat include the ability to manage water temperature, easy access to both the wet and dry areas of the habitat and a heated area of sand which ensures it remains hot for the females to lay their eggs.
Gharial are critically endangered as a result of habitat destruction and fragmentation of their river habitats. This prevents the species swimming to its nesting sites.
These crocodilians are among the largest in the world. While the hatchlings are currently small they may grow to be up to 16 foot long as adults.
Guests will be unable to view the gharial hatchlings which are currently housed off display where staff can keep a close watch over their growth.
Keepers hold the four gharial which have hatched at Fort Worth Zoo as part of conservation efforts for the species. Image: © Fort Worth Zoo
A keeper holds one of the four gharial which have hatched at Fort Worth Zoo as part of conservation efforts for the species. Image: © Fort Worth Zoo
About the Author
Cale has operated The Animal Facts since 2012. During this time he has volunteered and worked across a range of Australian Wildlife Parks something he continues to today. He holds a certificate in Animal Care and Husbandry.
One of their most notable features is the large bulge on the end of the snout which is only seen in males. This is used to amplify their call during the breeding season as a means of impressing the females.
Image: © Fort Worth Zoo
Copyright The Animal Facts 2023