By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just in time for Mother’s Day, Zoo Miami is ecstatic to welcome its newest residents.

Eggs from an endangered Venezuelan Orinoco River crocodile began hatching.

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Zoo officials said that on February 5th, the croc laid 45 eggs in a carefully excavated nest located in an off-exhibit holding area. Those eggs were then carefully collected by zoo staff on February 12th and placed into incubators.

Officials said that early this week, the first egg pipped and soon the hatchling had fully emerged from the egg. Since that time, officials said, 6 others have also fully hatched while several others have pipped and are still in the process of hatching.

Zoo staff expects that hatching will continue through the weekend and into next week.

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CBS 4 learned that Orinoco crocodiles are one of the world’s most critically endangered crocodilians due to extensive hunting for their skin and meat.

They are found in isolated pockets of the Orinoco River basin in Venezuela and the Meta River basin in Colombia, they are the New World’s southernmost species of crocodile.

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Zoo officials hope to eventually return these hatchlings to the wild. Team