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National Zoo Hatches A Pair Of Cuban Crocodiles

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A baby Cuban crocodile pushes its way out of the egg.
Barbara Watkins/Smithsonian's National Zoo
A baby Cuban crocodile pushes its way out of the egg.

For the first time in nearly 25 years, the National Zoo has hatched critically endangered Cuban crocodiles.

Two baby males hatched this month after scientists kept their eggs in incubators for months. So far, they seem healthy and are nipping at their handlers.

Scientists believe there are fewer than 4,000 Cuban crocodiles remaining in the wild in two small areas of Cuba, as pressures from hunting and hybridization with American crocodiles has rendered them critically endangered. U.S. zoos are trying to expand the population, though births are rare. There have been a handful of hatchings in Florida and Kentucky zoos. The National Zoo last hatched some in 1988.

The newest hatchlings are considered genetically valuable because the mother, Dorothy, was caught in the wild. She hasn't produced offspring before. Scientists believe she is 55 years old and thought she stopped laying eggs years ago.

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