Rare crocodile leaving Virginia Beach, heading south to mate

It’s time to say goodbye to Gloria, the fan-favorite crocodile at the Virginia Aquarium. Her last day on exhibit there is Sunday.

The rare, 30-year-old Tomistoma crocodile is moving to Florida with hopes of breeding her at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

This Tomistoma crocodile will no longer call Virginia Beach home. (Courtesy of the Virginia Aquarium)
This Tomistoma crocodile will no longer call Virginia Beach home. (Courtesy of the Virginia Aquarium)

Chip Harshaw, herpetologist curator at the Virginia Aquarium, said in a statement that while Gloria will be missed, staff members understand the integral role she can play in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ species survival program.

“This is a move that is in the best interest of Gloria, the Tomistoma species, and the crocodilian community,” Harshaw said. “The body of knowledge we can still learn about these animals is immense.”

Gloria is over 11 feet long and weighs about 350 pounds. She has been at the Virginia Aquarium on loan from the Bronx Zoo since Aug. 12, 2009. She was once paired with Grover, a male Tomistoma who measured 13 feet and almost 500 pounds, but Grover died in October 2013 from a previously unknown condition that he developed before arriving at the Virginia Aquarium, according to the aquarium.

Tomistoma crocodiles are endangered and on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with some estimates showing only 2,500 left in the wild, according to the aquarium. They are native to Indonesia and Malaysia; only 28 are in zoos and aquariums in North America, the aquarium said.

Typically found in freshwater lakes, rivers and swamps, many Tomistomas have been wiped out because of habitat destruction, entrapment in fishing nets and over-fishing of their food, the aquarium said.

The Virginia Aquarium said it is working on adding new Tomistoma to its exhibit but gave no details of that effort.

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