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Two endangered Orinoco crocodiles, once housed at the Seaway Serpitarium in Welland, Canada, arrived at their new home at the Gladys Porter Zoo Wednesday morning. According to Cristina Caballero, GPZ public relations coordinator, they had a successful unloading and are doing well as they acclimate into the new exhibit.

Blade, a 14-foot male Orinoco crocodile (largest crocodile to ever set foot at the Gladys Porter Zoo), and Suede, an 11-foot female Orinoco crocodile are now housed in a former American alligator exhibit located adjacent to the flamingo exhibit. The crocodile crates were hoisted into the exhibit via a large crane.

Karel Fortyn, owner of Seaway Serpentarium, passed away suddenly in May leaving behind hundreds of animals, including Blade and Suede. The crocodiles were outgrowing their tanks, and before his death, Fortyn had been planning to build a new facility. Ideally, according to Caballero, they needed to move to a southern location where they could live outside for most of the year and have the opportunity to lend their genetics to the small handful of Orinoco crocodiles already in North American facilities.

The species is listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, and is in serious peril throughout its range. In the early 1990s, fewer than 1,500 non-hatchlings survived in the wild. Some estimate that the wild population may have been as low as 250 adults. Despite proactive conservation measures, declines and fragmentation of the population continues.

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