A rare female Tomistoma, a freshwater crocodilian species also referred to as a false gharial, is joining L.A. Zoo’s collection at The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates and Reptiles (LAIR) today, Oct. 22.
The 35-year-old female from the Singapore Zoo arrived by cargo plane on Oct.7 to potentially become a breeding match for the zoo’s 17-year-old male Tomistoma. The female will stay in a quarantined area in view of the public until she is medically cleared to begin the introduction process with the male.
“Introductions of crocodilians are notoriously unpredictable,” said Ian Recchio, curator of amphibians and reptiles at the Los Angeles Zoo. “These are intelligent animals, and we aren’t sure how they will react to each other. We will start the introduction process by putting them in the same pool but separated by a partition that keeps them apart while allowing them to see and smell each other.”
LAIR animal care staff will monitor the intended breeding pair, and if they show signs of positive behavior toward each other, the partition will be removed. This will be the male’s first time seeing a female Tomistoma, as he was housed with another male since arriving at the L.A. Zoo in 1998. The smaller of the two males will be sent to the St. Louis Zoo in preparation for the introduction of the larger male with the female.
“Tomistoma are one of the most endangered crocodilian species in the world,” Recchio said. “We have high hopes that this pair will form a positive connection, and we encourage guests to come out and see the couple because they will be two of the rarest animals here at L.A. Zoo.”
Tomistoma are large crocodilians characterized by a long, narrow snout filled with 76 to 84 sharp, pointed teeth. One of the larger crocodilian species, males can attain lengths of up to 18 feet or more. The Tomistoma is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to continuing loss of swamp forest habitat.
For more information or tickets, visit www.lazoo.org. The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Drive.
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