On November 6, eight West African Dwarf Crocodiles hatched from eggs at the San Diego Zoo’s Reptile House—the first hatching of its kind in the zoo’s 101-year history. Three baby Crocs successfully hatched on their own, keepers assisted a fourth one in hatching, and more emerged from their eggs throughout the day. The hatchlings are being cared for behind the scenes—and the parents, an 11-year-old female named Yendi and a 50-year-old male named Kumba, can be seen by guests in the Africa Rocks exhibit.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
The eggs were laid by Yendi on August 13. To ensure the eggs’ viability, animal care staff collected the eggs and incubated them in an off-exhibit area at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other Crocodilian species, the gender of West African Dwarf Crocodiles is influenced by incubation temperatures, with higher temperatures required for the development of males. Although it is too soon to tell whether the hatchlings are male or female, keepers hope to determine the Crocodiles’ genders in a few days.
West African Dwarf Crocodiles are the smallest of the world’s Crocodile species, with an average adult length of about five feet. They inhabit small waterways, wetlands, and swamps in Sub-Saharan West Africa and Central Africa. They are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. There is little data currently available on this species in the wild, so San Diego Zoo Global supports research projects in Africa to better understand the status of West African Dwarf Crocodiles.