HEFEI, July 2, Xinhua -- Twelve Chinese alligators bred in captivity were released into the wild on Thursday in east China's Anhui Province.

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A Chinese alligator is released into the wild in forestry in Langxi County of Xuancheng City, east China's Anhui Province, July 2, 2015. A total of 12 captive-bred Chinese alligators from Anhui National Nature Reserve for Chinese Alligators were released into the wild in Xuancheng on Thursday. Altogether 78 Chinese alligators were released from the nature reserve since 2003. (Xinhua/Du Yu)

It is the second batch of Chinese alligators to be returned to their natural habitat this year by the Anhui Yangtze Alligator Reserve in Xuancheng City, bringing the number of released alligators to 78, according to Wu Rong, head of the administrative bureau of the reserve.

Twelve Chinese alligators were returned to the wild in May.

The reserve began releasing the reptiles in 2003. Research shows they have generally adapted well and have begun to reproduce, Wu said.

Statistics show they have laid 158 eggs and successfully incubated 80 of them.

The female to male sex ratio of the released alligators is 2:1 and their DNA was tested before release to avoid inbreeding. All carry radio transmitters.

China listed the Chinese alligator as a first-class protected animal in 1972. There are only about 150 in the wild.

In 2002, the reserve started restoring and constructing alligator habitats threatened by humans and pollution. It now has more than 15,000 captive alligators.