It's true! Two False Gharials hatched at the Audubon Zoo in September are the first ever to hatch there and the first to hatch in captivity in the United States since 2009.
Photo Credit: Audubon Zoo
False Gharials are freshwater crocodilians native to Southeast Asia. They have long, very thin snouts and inhabit swamps and rivers in Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra.
The two hatchlings increase the population of False Gharials at the Audubon Zoo to four. Only about 30 False Gharials live in American zoos.
Breeding False Gharials is difficult because they require jungle-like conditions in captivity. Audubon Zoo had been trying for years to breed their pair of False Gharials, and finally achieved success. Melanie Litton, senior reptile keeper at Audubon, said the success may be due, in part, to putting the male Gharial on a diet. “Obesity can effect potency in all kinds of animals, including humans,” Litton said.
Of a clutch of about 20 eggs, two were successfully fertilized, she said. Audubon Zoo will keep one hatchling, while the other will go to the Houston Zoo.
They are only a few inches long now, but will grow up to 15 feet long in adulthood.
False Gharials are considered one of the most threatened of all crocodilians, and were alarmingly close to extinction in the 1970s. They are threatened by habitat loss due to human encroachment and disruption of populations through fishing and hunting. In recent years, however, there have been signs of recovery in the wild population.