NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginia Zoo has some exciting news. Crocodiles will be on display for the first time in the Zoo’s 117-year history!
The new World of Reptiles exhibit has become home to Siamese crocodiles. The Zoo said they are regarded as one of the most critically endangered crocodiles in the world.
The two female crocodiles arrived Tuesday to start the Zoo’s captive conservation program for the species. The Zoo said the large reptiles are settling into their new 1,110 square-foot exhibit and can now be seen.
“We have an incredible opportunity to work with the world’s crocodilian experts in breeding these unique and rare species with the ultimate goal to release captive-reared crocodiles that bring genetic diversity to the dwindling wild population,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo.
The Virginia Zoo is partnering with the Madras Crocodile Trust in Cambodia, the Wildlife Conservation Society, of New York, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Crocodile Specialist Group toward shared conservation goals for the species. Through the Siamese Crocodile SSP, the Virginia Zoo will work with the Madras Crocodile Trust of Cambodia to bring a male Siamese crocodile to the United States, a unique process which could take up to two years.
Together the group hopes to help the fragmented population of wild Siamese crocodiles by including a community-based conservation project designating crocodile safe areas in Southeast Asia. Water extraction for irrigation during the dry season, incidental capture in fisheries gear and illegal killing were identified as the major threats to the species. Head-starting young crocodiles for eventual release will be the cornerstone of the conservation efforts, the Zoo said.
The two females came from the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, an AZA-accredited institution in Florida. Both are full-grown, measuring about seven feet in length and weighing about 150 pounds each.
The World of Reptiles and Friends is next to the ZooFarm at the Virginia Zoo.