Gharial Breeding Center

gharials at gharial breeding center in Chitwan

We’re watching you!

In case you didn’t know, gharials are prehistoric cousins of the alligator, fish-eating reptiles with strange narrow snouts that end in a ball. They might like fish, but some of the larger ones we saw…I’m sure one of my limbs would have made a tasty snack in a fish shortage! But fortunately for us at the Breeding Center, we were safely separated by stainless steel mesh.

chitwan national park, gharial breeding center

Here’s the list of sponsors for the breeding center.  If you look carefully you can see Lacoste – very creative!

The breeding center was built about ten years ago with WWF money and donations from other sponsors in response to the increasing problem of gharial extinction. Its populations have reduced dramatically in the last 70 years and it is now listed as “critically endangered.” The breeding center incubates the eggs and raises babies, and keeps populations of gharials from all age ranges. You could walk from pen to pen and see them at 2, 5 10 and even 45 years old, but I understand most are released into the wild once they reach the age of 4. I couldn’t find any statistics online on the impact that the center is having on the wild populations, but hopefully its a positive one.

crocodile breeding center

Gharials that are few years old.  I loved the way they piled up on one another like logs!

alligator, gharial, crocodile

…and then there were these big terrifying ones


We both loved this labeled peephole.  Its supposed to allow you to see the big gharials, but they were smart enough to hang out right under the sign so you could only see their massive backs as you strained to see in.



This notice showed you how many gharials were in captivity at different ages.  Its hard to read from a photo, but was interesting to see close up.


I’m guessing these are 4 year olds around release age.


This wasn’t a lucky snap or superior camera skills by me.  He sat like that the whole time I visited – frozen with his mouth open.  In fact they all did.  If they hadn’t blinked occasionally I would have thought they were made of rubber.

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