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See Baby Chinese Alligators at Oklahoma City Zoo As 120 Left in Wild

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Three baby Chinese alligator siblings have arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo (OKC Zoo) as part of an effort to preserve the critically endangered species.

The alligators arrived at the OKC Zoo after hatching in September 2020 at Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.

Chinese alligators are now so rare that there are just 120 individuals left in the wild. The decline in their population is being driven by habitat loss as well as pollution, according to the China branch of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Their food resources are being contaminated by both fertilizers and pesticides.

Currently, the species can be found in the wild in a small area of the Yangtze River basin in eastern China.

The OKC Zoo alligators can be seen below.

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Efforts to restore the species have been ongoing for years, and in 2003 the first Chinese alligators bred in human care were successfully reintroduced to the wild, OKC Zoo said. Today, a number of zoos are taking part in the Chinese Alligator Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Seamus Ehrhard, curator of herpetology at OKC Zoo, said in a statement: “We’re proud to commit to this collaborative conservation effort and do our part to help revitalize the declining population of Chinese alligators in their native habitat.

“By participating in this SSP program, we have the opportunity to make a powerful impact on Chinese alligator conservation, while raising public awareness for this lesser-known crocodilian species.”

For the siblings, the plan is for them to be housed at OKC Zoo for the foreseeable future. They are on public view at the underground habitat in the Children’s Zoo.

After a number of years, the goal is for the alligators to be introduced to potential mates from other zoos in the hopes they will breed. In human care, Chinese alligators can live for up to 70 years.

The Chinese alligator is the only member of the alligator family to be found naturally outside of the Americas. They differ from their American counterparts in a number of subtle ways.

For one, Chinese alligators tend to be smaller, reaching an average length of five feet. They also have a slightly upturned snout as well as bony plates on their belly which both help distinguish this particular species.

The diet of the Chinese alligator mainly consists of snails, crustaceans, insects and fish. The species may also eat young waterfowl and rodents.

In the wild, Chinese alligators are known to construct tunnel systems that include multiple chambers and pools and tend to hide in these during the day in order to avoid humans.

A stock photo shows a Chinese alligator on a rock. The species is very rare in the wild and is classed as critically endangered.
zhnger/iStock

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