BERLIN – The Skansen Aquarium in Stockholm, Sweden, sent 10 Cuban crocodile hatchlings, descendants of a pair of the animals donated by Fidel Castro to a Soviet cosmonaut in the 1970s, to the Caribbean island this weekend, aquarium director Jonas Wahlstrom said.
Cuban crocodiles have been sent to several countries and Cuba expressed an interest in receiving some members of the threatened species, Wahlstrom told Swedish public radio.
The animals’ story goes back to 1978, when Castro gave a pair of the crocs to cosmonaut Vladimir Sathalov, who took them back to the Soviet Union.
The Moscow Zoo donated the animals to Sweden in 1981 and they laid their first eggs at Skansen three years later, starting a successful reproductive life, Wahlstrom said.
Cuba operates crocodile hatcheries at Cienaga de Zapata in Matanzas province and on the Isle of Youth.
The Cuban crocodile is listed as critically endangered partly because the purity of its genetic pool has been affected by mating with American crocodiles.