Notes From the Field: Siamese Crocodile Hatchlings

Paul Buzzard, Ph.D., is the director of conservation for the Detroit Zoological Society.

We are very happy to report that 10 Siamese crocodiles recently hatched at the Detroit Zoo and will soon be released into the wild in Cambodia. The Siamese crocodile is one of the most endangered species of crocodile in the world, and was thought to be functionally extinct in the wild until the year 2000, when a small population was found in the highlands of southwest Cambodia. Now a total of around 250 Siamese crocodiles are believed to remain in three sub-populations. But it is still necessary to bolster the wild population so it can be sustainable into the future.

With Siamese crocodiles at zoos, there is sometimes a concern that there has been previous mating with other crocodile species, but genetic testing of the Siamese crocodiles at the Detroit Zoo confirmed that they are genetically pure and could be included in the Siamese Crocodile Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which strives to manage and conserve species populations in zoos and aquariums to ensure the sustainability of healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically diverse populations.

When suitable areas are available within the natural habitat of a species, individuals from SSP programs can sometimes be returned to the wild. The young crocodiles from the Detroit Zoo will be raised for several months by an adult crocodile pair at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida while permits are arranged for them to be released into protected areas of Cambodia.

– Dr. Paul Buzzard

One thought on “Notes From the Field: Siamese Crocodile Hatchlings

  1. Adult Siamese crocodiles will raise hatchlings that are not their own? Great news that they will be able to bolster the population in the Cardamoms.

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