Adorable Photos Show Crocodiles Cuddling After Living Together for Decades

Two crocodiles who have lived together for decades have been pictured cuddling at a Florida zoo.

The pictures captured by Scott Brown––crocodile zip line manager at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park––show two saltwater crocodiles called Maximo and Sydney displaying what for them is a usual display of affection.

In the pictures, Maximo––a huge 50-year-old crocodile––can be seen with his arm around the smaller female croc. A spokesperson for the park told Newsweek that "these two are often seen snuggling and cuddling up to each other."

Maximo measures about 16 feet long and weighs 1,250 pounds, while Sydney is much smaller, measuring 9 feet and weighing 250 pounds. In the pictures, Sydney appears to be less than half the size of her companion.

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The male crocodile is "very gentle" with Sydney even though he outweighs her by 1,000 pounds, the spokesperson said.

Maximo and Sydney used to live at a park in Cairns, Australia before they were moved to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 2003. As they were originally part of a breeding group, the two crocodiles have "produced many babies over the years," which staff affectionately refer to as "Minimos."

Despite being intimidating predators, crocodiles are sometimes observed displaying softer behavior. The ancient reptiles are highly intelligent, with sophisticated hunting techniques, and evidence suggests they are also capable of forming strong bonds with one another. A 2015 study found examples of crocodilians forming friendships with other individuals, sometimes playing by riding on each other's backs.

"In the wild, Saltwater crocodile males can control large stretches of territories, and often have multiple females in those territories that they breed with and keep other wandering males from entering these territories," the park spokesperson said. "During mating season, crocodilians may rub their snouts/heads over each other, blow bubbles underwater near each other, and generally be gentle to one another. It's not a rough affair, like with sharks or a quick affair, like with some birds or mammals."

These mating moments can last "quite a while with crocodilians," with the ritual sometimes lasting over several hours. Crocodiles are not usually monogamous, however, and a clutch of eggs will often contain the genes from several different males.

"Maximo has his territory secured and safe, and he has his girl. Sydney has nothing to worry about because she has her large man to protect her and the territory," the spokesperson said.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park has 24 species of crocodilians, and a variety of other reptiles. Maximo and Sydney live in a lagoon at the Crocodile Crossing area of the park.

The staff often observe the crocs cuddling like this John Brueggen/St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park