Nashville Zoo Hatches Rare Crocodile Tegus

Nashville Zoo celebrates the first-ever hatching of crocodile tegus in an AZA-accredited institution.

Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of two crocodile tegus, a significant milestone as it marks the first time this species has been hatched in any Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited organization. The crocodile tegus, both believed to be female, hatched on May 7 and 14 and are currently being nurtured in the Zoo’s Herpetology Department.

The crocodile tegu (Crocodilurus amazonicus) is a semi-aquatic reptile native to the wetlands and forests of South America, including regions in Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil. These reptiles can grow up to four feet in length and are distinguished by their long, flat, paddle-like tails that aid in swimming. Despite their name, crocodile tegus are not related to crocodiles.

Nashville Zoo is the sole AZA organization that houses crocodile tegus. The Zoo acquired three juvenile females in 2018 and raised them in an off-exhibit area. In 2023, the Zoo introduced a juvenile male to the group, and soon after, one of the females laid a clutch of ten eggs. Two of these eggs were viable, leading to the recent hatchings.

Katie Gregory, Nashville Zoo Herpetology Keeper, expressed her excitement, stating, “When I caught a first glimpse of that little hatchling, I was so excited my hands were shaking. We are thrilled to learn more about this largely unstudied species and share our discoveries with other AZA organizations and the rest of the world.”

Nashville Zoo has a history of pioneering husbandry programs. Some of its notable achievements include:

– 1992: First successful artificial insemination in a clouded leopard

– 1994: First known breeding of the roughneck monitor lizard

– 1996: First breeding of the Bengal monitor lizard at an AZA Institution

– 2001: First breeding of the Cuban giant false chameleon at an AZA Institution

– 2002: First known breeding of Haitian giant anole

– 2007: First breeding of Central American galliwasps

– 2008: First successful artificial incubation of a rhinoceros hornbill chick in the U.S.

– 2011: First known breeding of a giant rainbow stripe galliwasp

– 2012: First known breeding of an Eastern hellbender

– 2012: First breeding of an externally fertilizing salamander species using in-vitro fertilization

– 2014: First known breeding of a bumble bee toad

– 2015: First production of an externally fertilizing salamander using artificial insemination and cryopreservation

– 2017: First birth of a clouded leopard through artificial insemination and cryopreservation

– 2021: First known breeding of a streamside salamander

– 2022: First breeding of a Malpeo giant galliwasp

Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, dedicated to the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is involved in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and educational initiatives both locally and globally. Supported by the Nashville community, donors, and sponsors, the Zoo is the leading tourist attraction in Middle Tennessee, attracting over 1.4 million visitors annually. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike, just six miles south of downtown. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit

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