News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
November 1, 2022
NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos.

West African Dwarf Crocodile Hatches — Marking a First for Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. —  The Chicago Zoological Society is happy to announce that a West African dwarf crocodile hatched at Brookfield Zoo on September 15. This is believed to be the first crocodilian species on record to have ever hatched at Brookfield Zoo. The month-and-a-half old scaly reptile made his public debut this week at the zoo’s Swamp habitat.

In order to provide the best chance for survivability, which includes maintaining a certain temperature throughout the egg’s development, it was placed in an incubator and monitored by the animal care staff. The hatchling’s parents—39-year-old sire named Krackle and 24-year-old mom Leviathan—arrived at Brookfield Zoo in April 2005 and May 2019, respectively.

A female West African dwarf crocodile lays her eggs in a mound of leaves to keep them warm, and will guard  the nest until the eggs hatch after a three-month incubation. The mother then carries her young in a throat pouch in her mouth to safely bring them to the water. Young are usually independent rather soon after hatching, although some may stay close to mom for a few weeks before going out on their own.

The West African dwarf crocodile is the world’s smallest crocodile. The young crocodile at Brookfield Zoo currently weighs about 3 ounces. Adults weigh between 40 and 70 pounds and measure to an
average of 5.5 to just over 6 feet long; this is 10 feet smaller and two thousand pounds lighter than the largest crocodile species.

This small-scale reptile is patterned with lighter colors when it first hatches and will darken as it matures, making it easy for them to blend in with the shadows at the river’s edge. The species is primarily found in the rainforest, swamps, and rivers of West Africa eating a diet of mostly small mammals and birds, fish, and insects. However, if the sun is shining, they may slide onto a log or even climb onto the lower branches of trees to catch some rays.

The West African dwarf crocodile is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ (IUNC) Red List of Threatened Species. Its numbers are declining due to habitat destruction in parts of its range as well as hunting for its meat and skin, which is used to make certain products. 

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Photo Captions (credit CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
9295, 9298, 9300: A West African dwarf crocodile that hatched at Brookfield Zoo on September 15, can now be seen in one of the habitats at the Swamp.
50: A West African dwarf crocodile hatched at Brookfield Zoo on September 15. This photo was taken when he was just a day old.
About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit



Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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