Rare Chinese Alligator Moves into Exhibit at ABQ BioPark Zoo

The Zoo helps ensure gators' future through a Species Survival Plan.

November 30, 2012

ABQ BioPark herpetologists recently moved a male Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis) into the Reptile House at the Zoo. The male alligator came from Sedgwick County Zoo and has been in quarantine for about a month. Now, BioPark guests can see the new addition alongside a female Chinese alligator that has been on exhibit for a year. Watch the herpetology team move the Chinese alligator to his exhibit on the ABQ BioPark's YouTube channel.

There are only two alligator species in the world. Unlike the abundant American alligator, the Chinese alligator is critically endangered. The Zoo is part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) that promotes conservation through breeding and reintroduction. Although the female currently on exhibit will not be bred, herpetologists plan to breed the male with a female Chinese alligator arriving from the Bronx Zoo next year.

"Because there are very few Chinese alligators left in the wild, it is extremely important for zoos to maintain captive populations for later reintroduction," said Doug Hotle, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians. "When we choose breeding pairs for species recovery, we make sure the male and female will contribute to the population's genetic diversity and health. Our male and the female from the Bronx Zoo have been identified as being a good match, and we're hoping to have little hatchlings in the future."

Fewer than 130 Chinese alligators survive in the wild, and those that remain are confined to a small area in the Yangtze River basin in Eastern China. As farmers convert wetlands into rice paddies, habitat continues to shrink and gator populations dwindle. Fortunately, zoos' conservation efforts and captive breeding programs aim to reintroduce healthy Chinese alligators into the wild.

BioPark guests can encounter Chinese alligators and other rare and interesting animals in the Zoo's Reptile House, which is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and included with regular admission. For more information, email [email protected] or dial 311 locally (505-768-2000).