Bronx, NY, January 26, 2024 – Visitors to the Bronx Zoo can view three newly acquired Sunda gharial in the World of Reptiles. The three male siblings, about five years old, that were hatched at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans will be raised at the Bronx Zoo to support the propagation efforts of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Sunda Gharial Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Bronx Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to successfully hatch the Sunda gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii) nearly four decades ago in 1985.

Sunda gharials are a freshwater crocodilian species found in flooded forests, swamps, and wetlands throughout Southeast Asia, with individuals reported in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia (Sumatera, Jawa, Kalimantan), and Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak). The species, known as one of the giant crocodilians, can grow as long as 18 feet and is considered an apex predator within its ecosystem.

With fewer than 2,400 adults estimated to remain in the wild, The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)lists the species as Endangered. The IUCN further notes that in its original habitat range, the species is Extinct in Malaysia (Sabah) and Thailand; its presence in Vietnam is uncertain.

There are 36 Sunda gharials in AZA zoos and aquariums and another 118 estimated in zoos and aquariums worldwide.

Many threats, such as habitat loss, illegal hunting, and the climate crisis, threaten Sunda gharial's survival in the wild. With their wild population numbers continuing to decline, AZA zoos and aquariums have developed a collaborative propagation program as an effort to ensure the survival of a genetically diverse population of this species.