ROYAL OAK – Visitors at Friday night’s Sunset at the Zoo will get an extra special treat — the first glimpse of the zoo’s four African slender-snouted crocodiles.
The 21-year-old crocodiles – two pairs of brothers – arrived from Zoo Miami just in time for the gala event, which happens 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday.
Sunset at the Zoo features a strolling supper, live entertainment, dancing, auction prizes and access to the zoo’s award-winning animal habitats at twilight. For information or to purchase tickets, visit www.detroitzoo.org/sunset. Tickets will also be available at the gate. The zoo closed at 2 p.m. Friday in preparation for the festivities.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to debut this rare and beautiful crocodile, especially on an evening when two thousand special guests will see them for the first time,” said Jeff Jundt, Detroit Zoological Society curator of reptiles.
There are only 31 recorded African slender-snouted crocodiles in U.S. zoos. The Detroit Zoo is one of 11 zoos to care for the species, which was last seen here more than 40 years ago.
The former hippo habitat north of the bear dens has been renovated for the crocodiles. The enclosure has two fresh-water pools – indoor and outdoor – for the aquatic reptiles to bask and swim.
The new crocodiles are about 5 feet long and weigh around 30 pounds. The species can grow up to 13 feet and weigh as much as 500 pounds.
The African slender-snouted crocodile (Crocodylus cataphractus) has an elongated snout that enables it to move quickly through the water and snatch prey with about 70 razor-sharp teeth. The species lives in the equatorial rainforest belt of Central and West Africa. The captive lifespan ranges from 45 to 50 years while the wild lifespan is unknown.