Animals

It's a Baby Boom for the World's Most Endangered Gator

The critically endangered Chinese alligator adds to its miniscule numbers in China.

The world's most endangered alligator has a few new members to add to its small ranks.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis) eggs discovered in the Dongtan Wetland Parkwetlands of Shanghai have hatched, with three babies visibly healthy and photographed out swimming.

WCS estimates that only 150 of the alligators remain in the wild in China, so to conservationists news of the new additions is exceedingly welcome, bolstering efforts to reintroduce the animal that have been undertaken by the group and other aligned organizations.

"This shows that even the most endangered wildlife can recover if given a chance," said Aili Kang, WCS executive director for Asia programs.

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The Chinese alligator is one of only two living alligator species. Its counterpart, the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), is faring much better. Hunting and loss of habitat once rendered it endangered, but since its removal from that list in 1987 the American reptile has thrived and is plentiful in number in the southeastern United States.

An adult Chinese alligator prowls in Shanghai's Dongtan Wetland Park. Credit: WCS

In 2007, WCS staff and partners such as the Bronx Zoo set free six captive-raised Chinese alligators in the wetland park, followed by six more in 2015. The Bronx Zoo still houses two of the scarce gators.

"The release of zoo-bred Chinese alligators to re-establish a breeding population of this endangered crocodilian is a great example of how zoos are playing a major role in conservation efforts around the world," said Jim Breheny, WCS executive vice president and director of WCS' Bronx Zoo.

Top Photo: A baby Chinese alligator swims in Dongtan Wetland Park in China. Two of three discovered nests in the park were destroyed by flooding but photos show that alligators from the third nest survived. Credit: East China Normal University WATCH VIDEO: Seriously, Stop Feeding Wild Animals!