Two dozen baby alligators are now calling the Newport Aquarium home.
The month-old hatchlings are about six inches long and exploring their new habitat in Gator Alley. The aquarium says the babies will be slowly introduced to the larger exhibit but are in a baby pool for now.
They'll be here until they reach about two feet long, then return to Florida, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Tan. The reptiles are in Northern Kentucky as part of a partnership with a Florida-based alligator conservation effort, Tan says.
The aquarium's care team is monitoring the animals' weights, measurements and food intake. Alligators grow about a foot per year during their first few years of life and can get up to about eight to 11 feet in length.
"Seeing a group of baby gators in the wild is exciting but can be rare. They have a lot of natural predators, so they are excellently camouflaged," says Newport Aquarium General Curator Kelly Sowers in a release. "It's so special that guests get to see the babies up close and watch them grow up at Newport Aquarium."
The American alligator teetered on the brink of extinction in the 1980s. It's now considered a rare success story as the once endangered animal is now thriving.