June 17, 2022
A New Pair of Crocs
Denver Zoo is Raising Critically Endangered Orinoco Crocodiles for Wild Release
Tropical Discovery has two new crocodiles, but their presence here is for a limited time only. The critically-endangered, juvenile Orinoco crocodiles were two of many that hatched at Zoo Miami and Gladys Porter Zoo last year as part of a wild-release program. Orinoco crocodiles are native to the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and parts of Colombia. They’re the most southerly species of crocodile, whose two biggest threats are habitat loss and being hunted for their meat. After hatching, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) managing Orinoco crocodiles reached out to other zoos to help raise the baby crocs, since raising that many crocodiles is a feat that requires more space and time than either zoo had. Enter Denver Zoo!
Tropical Discovery is home to thousands of fish, reptiles, and even a handful of mammals, making it a perfect place for two young crocodiles. Not only do we have the space to house them, our Tropical Discovery keepers have the expertise to assist with raising these crocodiles until they’re ready for release. To ensure that all the crocodiles grow at the same pace and can be released around the same time, our team will follow a rearing protocol set up by the studbook keeper for the Orinoco crocodile SSP. Guests can come see the pair in the habitat between capybaras and piranhas, and watch them grow over the next 18-24 months. We’ll manage their care until they reach a meter in length, they’ll be large enough to be released into the Capanaparo River at the Santos Luzardo National Park in Venezuela. Once they’re at the release site, some of the crocodiles will be fitted with a satellite tracking device for constant monitoring of their movements and habitat utilization. Being able to track their movements will give us a better idea of how to preserve and care for the species for years to come.
As a conservation organization, we’re proud to lend our expertise and facility to this important effort. Whether we’re out in the field rehabilitating species, or providing a short-term pit stop for a wild-release program, we’re focused on our mission to inspire communities to save wildlife for future generations. We hope you’ll join us!
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