Zoo Welcomes Rare Alligators to New Reptile Walk

Reptile exhibit opens to public on Wednesday

By Lauren Steussy
|  Wednesday, Jul 4, 2012  |  Updated 8:15 PM PDT
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More than 50 species of reptiles will walk, slither and slide in the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday for the opening of the new Reptile Walk. 

One of those species includes the extremely rare Chinese alligator. The Zoo now features two, Xiao and Xidi, in an open-air pool exhibit, zoo officials announced.

Xiao and Xidi arrived Monday from an alligator farm in Florida, and are two of an estimated 100 left in the wild.

The two alligators are on loan to the zoo from the farm, as their population there was threatened by inbreeding among the farm's other 15 Chinese alligators, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Chinese alligators are much smaller and more fully armored than their American cousins, and are generally less aggressive too.

"They have neat little personalities: a little like bulldogs, stocky, with a little attitude," Kevin Torregrosa, the reptile expert at the St. Augustine alligator farm told the LA Times.

"You're going to like them."

The exhibit is a living reminder of the threats reducing the populations of the animals on display. Visitors will walk through the various types of wetlands where the reptiles are typically found.

Xiao and Xidi will join rosy boa snakes, mossy tree frogs, snake-necked turtles, leaf tailed geckos and others in the Reptile Walk.

There will also be a group of reptiles native to California.

The Reptile Walk is located behind the Reptile House, across from the Galápagos tortoises.

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