Four West African dwarf crocodiles have redefined cute after hatching at nearby Whipsnade Zoo for the first time in 18 years.
Zookeepers are celebrating the arrival of the four dwarf crocs at the Dunstable zoo, which measure only eight inches long and are already exploring their spacious, tropical enclosure and deep pool within the Zoo’s colourful Butterfly House.
Amara and Kojo, the Zoo’s 39-year-old West African dwarf crocodiles last produced offspring in 1998, but on Christmas Eve 2015 the pair were spotted mating, and in March this year, female Amara laid eggs.
Amara closely guarded the nest for three months, and on Friday 17 June four eggs finally hatched, to the delight of Zoo visitors.
Team Leader Alex Cliffe said: “When the eggs were in the nest, we were monitoring them closely, ensuring that they were kept at the perfect temperature and humidity levels. Amazingly, even before hatching, the baby crocs can actually call to their mum from inside the egg. That means that she can help excavate them from the nest and carry the hatchlings down to the water for safety.
“Mum Amara is very protective of her little ones, so we are being careful not to disturb any of them during feed times.
“We are so excited to have four tiny new additions to our dwarf crocodile group. It’s great to see them out and about in the pool, bonding with their parents and learning that crickets are tasty!”
Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the four little reptiles will be added to the European Studbook (ESB) for West African dwarf crocodiles.
Hatching just in time for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s summer spectacular, Zoorassic Park, the tiny crocodiles will soon be joined by a herd of the largest reptiles to have ever walked the Earth. For more info visit www.zsl.org