Crocodiles back home

EFFORTS to save the critically endangered Cuban crocodile are getting a boost from Sweden.

A Stockholm zoo is sending 10 baby crocodiles back to Cuba to be released into the wild.

They are the offspring of crocodiles former Cuban President Fidel Castro gave a Russian cosmonaut in the 1970s as a token of communist solidarity.

There are thought to be just 4000 Cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) left in the wild.

Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov brought them back to Moscow and kept them in his apartment until they grew too big.

He then handed the crocodiles over to the city zoo, but officials did not have suitable accommodation so they were offered to the Stockholm zoo.

Later, the two crocodiles were named Hillary and Castro — in a nod to international politics — and they became a star attraction at the Skansen zoo in Stockholm, where they have been breeding since 1984.

The population of wild Cuban crocodiles is restricted to Cuba’s Zapata Swamp the island’s largest wetland.

The crocodiles are distinguished by a characteristic bony ridge behind the eyes.

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