Ten Siamese crocodiles that hatched at the Detroit Zoo’s Holden Reptile Conservation Center in early June, which are being fostered by an adult pair of Siamese crocodiles at the the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida, will be released into their natural environment in Cambodia.
“Our conservation efforts have led not only to the successful breeding of Siamese crocodiles but to the addition of zoo-born crocodiles to a critically small wild population, which hopefully will help save the species from extinction,” says Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer at the Detroit Zoological Society.
The release to Cambodia marks the first time captive-bred Siamese crocodile hatchlings will be released in the wild.
The Siamese crocodile is a medium-sized crocodile found in the wetlands and waterways of Southeast Asia. There are estimated to be around 250 adult Siamese crocodiles remaining in the wild, and the decline of the species is due to habitat loss, degradation of the habitat by humans, and the poaching of both crocodiles and their eggs for farms and the skin trade.
The Detroit Zoo’s breeding effort for Siamese crocodiles is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. In the most recent breeding event at the Detroit Zoo, the female Siamese crocodile laid 22 eggs in a nest she constructed of soil and vegetation.
The zoo’s reptile center is home to 180 reptiles representing 70 species, one-fifth of which are considered threatened or endangered in the wild.