Cool Science
Call it a Comeback

October 26, 2016

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Photo Credit: ©WCS

New photos from China confirm that eggs of critically endangered Chinese alligators have hatched. The eggs were discovered recently in a nest in a Shanghai wetland park.

Considering there are only 150 or so Chinese alligators left in the wild, this is big news.

"This shows that even the most endangered wildlife can recover if given a chance," said Aili Kang, WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs.

Recently, it appeared the eggs wouldn't make it. WCS scientists Steven G. Platt, Fenglian Li, and Maggie He originally found three nests, with more than 60 viable eggs. But two of the nests were lost to a typhoon in mid-September and the fate of the third nest's hatchlings was unclear.

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Photo Credit: ©WCS

This is part of a long effort to revive the species, one of only two species of alligator. Chinese partners and WCS initially released six captive-bred Chinese alligators in Dongtan Wetland Park in Shanghai in 2007. Three of these animals came from Changxing Chinese Alligator Nature Reserve in China and the other three alligators came from U.S. zoos including WCS's Bronx Zoo and the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

Additional Chinese alligators from these U.S. zoos were sent to breeding centers in China to provide valuable genetic diversity in captive populations. Then in 2015, six more alligators from Anhui Chinese Alligator National Nature Reserve were released into the wetland.

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