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Image: Close up of crocodile being held in a hand
Jacquelyn Martin  /  AP
A supervisory biologist at the National Zoo's Reptile Discovery Center holds a 13-day-old Cuban crocodile hatchling, one of two crocodiles hatched from surprise eggs.
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updated 7/20/2012 2:21:19 PM ET 2012-07-20T18:21:19

Two endangered Cuban crocodiles have hatched at the National Zoo in Washington.

The hatchings are considered genetically valuable because their mother, Dorothy, was caught in the wild. Dorothy is thought to be 55 years old and zookeepers figured she had stopped laying eggs years ago.

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But when they discovered she had laid eggs, they took great care to incubate them for months. Only two of the eggs hatched successfully, the first Cuban crocs to do so at the zoo in nearly 25 years.

Scientists believe there are fewer than 6,000 Cuban crocs remaining in the wild in two small areas of Cuba.

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U.S. zoos are trying to expand the population, though births are rare. There have been a handful of hatchings in Florida and Kentucky zoos.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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