For Release: November 29, 2007
Lainie Contreras (202) 409-3732
John Gibbons (202) 391-4231
National Zoo Gharial Dies
A male gharial, a crocodile-like reptile, died overnight at Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
Preliminary necropsy findings include pneumonia, and tracheitis and esophagitis. Veterinarians anesthetized the 27-year-old gharial Nov. 20 in order to treat a prolapsed penis. The procedure was successful, and during the following days, the gharial showed some signs of improvement. The Nov. 20 procedure was the third time in the last two years that the gharial had been treated for a prolapsed penis.
Zoo pathologists will conduct further tests and issue a final report. Based on available data, scientists believe that gharials can live up to 50 years in zoos.
Recognized by its unique long snout, the gharial is one of the biggest crocodilian species, with males reaching 20 to 23 feet. Gharials are primarily found in India and Nepal. They are listed as “critically endangered” by The World Conservation Union. The National Zoo now has one female gharial at the Reptile Discovery Center. For more information on the species, please visit: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/
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Note to editors: Photos of the gharial are available through the National Zoo’s Office of Public Affairs.