WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time in nearly 25 years, the National Zoo in Washington has hatched critically endangered Cuban crocodiles with hopes of helping sustain the species.

Two babies hatched in July after scientists kept their eggs in incubators for months. So far they seem healthy and are nipping at their handlers.

Scientists believe there are fewer than 6,000 Cuban crocodiles remaining in the wild in two small areas of Cuba. U.S. zoos are trying to expand the population, though births are rare. There have been a handful of hatchings in Florida and Kentucky zoos.

The newest hatchings are considered genetically valuable because the mother, Dorothy, was caught in the wild. She hasn’t produced offspring before. Scientists believe she is 55 years old and thought she stopped laying eggs years ago.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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