BEIJING, July 17 (UPI) -- Endangered Chinese alligators have been reintroduced at the mouth of the Yangtze River and are multiplying on their own, authorities said.
Fifteen hatchlings born on the river this year are the descendants of Chinese alligators exported to New York's Bronx Zoo, bred in captivity and then exported back to China, Wildlife Conservation Society officials said in a release Friday.
"We are grateful to our Chinese partners for their commitment to reintroduce Chinese alligators back into the wild," Dr. Steven Sanderson, the society's president, said.
Plans to reintroduce the Chinese alligators began in 1999 when scientists confirmed there were fewer than 130 of the alligators left on the Yangtze, which is highly developed and has pollution problems.
The Chinese alligator or "tu long" -- meaning "muddy dragon -- is one of the world's most threatened species. It is one of only two alligator species in existence. The other species being the better known American alligator.