DUBAI // Three baby crocodiles believed to be the first to be born in an aquarium to mating adults are quickly outgrowing their surroundings and will be rehoused soon.
Experts were surprised when brothers Pacman and Prince and their sister Princess hatched at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo about two years ago.
Many scientists believed King, who was 40 at the time, and Queen, who was aged 80, were too old to breed but the star attractions proved them wrong.
Paul Hamilton, general manager and curator at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, said the search to find new homes for the young ones would begin in a couple of months.
“We have three baby crocs that are almost two years old and they are growing rapidly, so we will start looking for new homes for them soon,” he said.
The three animals are about a metre in length now, but their rapid growth rate means it will become increasingly difficult to move them as they get bigger.
“They are manageable at the moment and we have them in tanks that are big enough to allow them some freedom,” Mr Hamilton said.
“We could probably put them in with their parents as King and Queen would be very protective of them.
“However, the older and bigger they get the more they will be seen as just another lizard by King, who could attack them.”
A message will go on the World Aquarium Zoo Association website alerting wildlife centres about the availability of the young crocodiles.
“The network’s zoo and aquariums have to abide by a strict code of ethics and meet stringent guidelines to make sure animals are as comfortable as possible,” said Mr Hamilton.
“Their new homes will be where they will be able to thrive.”
A key reason the two giant saltwater crocodiles are breeding is that they are comfortable in their surroundings, which are climate controlled to be as close to their native habitat in Queensland, Australia as possible.
“They have been a couple who have been together for more than 20 years so they are very comfortable with one another,” said Mr Hamilton.
At the start of March, Queen laid 51 eggs, and staff at the underwater zoo are hopeful that a few may hatch.
“We have taken about half and put them into incubators and the rest are in a nest with Queen,” he said.
“She is very protective of her nest and was becoming agitated seeing people near one of the windows opposite her nest so we had to cover that up.
“The eggs should be ready to hatch about 90 days after being laid and that’s when we’ll put up our notice up on Waza for Pacman, Prince and Princess.
“These really are amazing animals and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a few more hatch this time.”
For more details about Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, see www.thedubaiaquarium.com.