Guests Can Now View the Female Breeding Partner Before Her Introduction to the Male

The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to welcome a rare female Tomistoma, a freshwater crocodilian species also referred to as a false gharial, to the collection at The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles (LAIR). The 35-year-old female from the Singapore Zoo arrived by cargo plane on Wednesday, October 7 to hopefully become a breeding match for the Zoo’s 17-year-old male Tomistoma. The female will stay in a quarantined area in view of the public until she is medically cleared to begin the introduction process with the male.

“Introductions of crocodilians are notoriously unpredictable,” said Ian Recchio, Curator of
Amphibians and Reptiles at the Los Angeles Zoo. “These are intelligent animals, and we aren’t sure how they will react to each other. We will start the introduction process by putting them in the same pool but separated by a partition that keeps them apart while allowing them to see and smell each other.”

LAIR animal care staff will monitor the intended breeding pair, and if they show signs of positive behavior toward each other, the partition will be removed. This will be the male’s first time seeing a female Tomistoma as he was housed with another male since their arrival at L.A. Zoo in 1998. The smaller of the two males will soon be sent to the St. Louis Zoo in preparation for the introduction of the larger male with the female.

“Tomistoma are one of the most endangered crocodilian species in the world,” said Recchio. “We have high hopes that this pair will form a positive connection, and we encourage guests to come out and see the couple because they will be two of the rarest animals here at L.A. Zoo.”

Tomistoma are large crocodilians characterized by a long, narrow snout filled with 76-84 sharp, pointed teeth. One of the larger crocodilian species, males can attain lengths of up to 18 feet or more. The freshwater species is native to Southeast Asia, specifically Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The Tomistoma is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to continuing loss of swamp forest habitat.