HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Zookeepers at the Hattiesburg Zoo were shocked when they observed their female alligator, Pearl, burrowing a nest in the back trees of the alligator exhibit early July.
Zoo officials said they did not expect Pearl to lay fertilized eggs and thought her nest was only a "test nest", to see if she was in a proper and safe environment to even lay eggs.
Reptile Expert, Stephanie Buckley said Pearl laid 38 eggs, but 14 were viable.
Officials said they did not expect fertilized eggs since it was late in the season to have baby gators. The zoo said alligator eggs typically hatch in July.
Pearl's eggs hatched earlier this week. "We heard alligators chirping inside the nest" said Buckley.
"We are going to keep them for a little while and raise them, till they go strong healthy" added Buckley.
The zoo said its the first time ever alligators hatched in the zoo. In previous years the alligators at the zoo were in a concrete exhibit and were too old to lay eggs.
Buckley said, "We will keep some for our education program, it is really exciting to have gators that came from our big guys out here. It feels a bit more special"
The other alligators will be transported to other reptile education programs across the state.