Audubon Zoo staff welcomed its first-ever hatchings of critically endangered false gharials in September 2014. The two gharials doubled the Zoo's population to four. When they hatched they are only a few inches long but will grow up to 15 feet—a testament to the advanced care and expertise of the animal staff at Audubon Zoo.
Gharials, a freshwater crocodilian, are native to Southeast Asia. The species is considered to be one of the most critically threatened of all crocodilians, and was alarmingly close to extinction in the 1970s. The major threat is habitat loss due to human encroachment and disruption of populations through fishing and hunting activities.
The species has not been bred in captivity anywhere in the United States since 2009 and never at Audubon Zoo until now. Audubon Zoo will keep one gharial while the other will go to the Houston Zoo.