A stunning video shows a lorry dumping critically endangered alligators back into a national park in China as 14,000 are released following four months of hibernation indoors.
In the clip, alligators big and small are tossed back into the waters of the nature reserve after having been transported back to the park and out the back of a lorry.
The carnivorous animals will remain there until the autumn when they will be moved back indoors once more for hibernation
Chinese alligators bred in captivity at the Chinese Alligator National Nature Reserve in the city of Xuancheng in East China’s Anhui Province are manually relocated each year to ensure the species’ survival.
The reptiles are native to the Yangtze – Asia’s longest river and the third-longest system in the world – and are therefore also known as the Yangtze alligator or "muddy dragon".
Together with the American alligator living in the Mississippi River in the United States, they are only one of two alligator species still alive in the world today.
Since March 20 this year, staff at the Chinese alligator reserve have been slowly moving some of its 14,000 inhabitants back into outdoor ponds and lakes after the animals spent four months in hibernation at the Anhui Chinese Alligator Research and Breeding Center.
Zhang Song, one of the directors at the research facility, said the move takes between seven and 10 days.
“At the end of March each year, as the weather warms, hibernating alligators slowly wake up," he explained.
“We then begin the annual task of relocating alligators from their indoor enclosures to outdoors.
“They only start eating in April, and then they enter mating season mid-May or towards the end of the month. They then begin laying eggs towards the end of June.”
According to Mr Zhang, the research facility is housing more than 400 alligator hatchlings that are still too young and fragile to be put in the park.
Chinese alligators are critically endangered, according to the IUCN Red List, with only 120 species remaining in the wild due to habitat loss.
The population of wild specimens has been artificially increased in recent years thanks to the reintroduction of mature males and females.
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