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  • Mayor Unveils Japanese Giant Salamander Exhibit At Honolulu Zoo.

Mayor unveils Japanese giant salamander exhibit at Honolulu Zoo


One of the Japanese giant salamanders at the Honolulu Zoo.

Honolulu - Mayor Kirk Caldwell welcomed three Japanese giant salamanders into their new home at the Honolulu Zoo today with a press conference followed by a lei untying. These amphibians are the second largest salamanders in existence and will be on public display in their new exhibit at the zoo's Ectotherm Complex. The Honolulu Zoo is fortunate to be one of only a few zoos in the United States to feature these ancient amphibians.


Photo courtesy the City and County of Honolulu.

"The zoo is about educating folks, and it???s about conservation," Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a press conference Monday announcing the new exhibit. "This is a historic day for a couple of reasons. This exhibit honors our relationship with Hiroshima, our first sister city, and sends a message to everyone who visits the zoo that the bonds between our people are strong and unbreakable."

Two females Japanese giant salamanders, Panda and Maru, and one male, Peace, were gifted to the Honolulu Zoo on February 20, 2014 by the Asa Zoo in Hiroshima, Japan to honor the 55th anniversary of the sister city relationship with the City and County of Honolulu. Hiroshima formally became a sister city with Honolulu on June 15, 1959.

The Japanese giant salamander, which comes from a temperate forest area in Japan with cold streams and rivers, is nationally protected, considered a national natural treasure, and has been named a special natural monument by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs since 1952.Endemic to Japan, these salamanders can grow up to five-feet in length. They are threatened by habitat loss and development and their only competition in the wild is the Chinese giant salamander, which is even larger.

The Honolulu Zoo is studying and working closely with Asa Zoo veterinary and herpetology experts to provide a proper habitat for the animals in an effort to become the first zoo to propagate and establish a successful Japanese giant salamander breeding program outside of its native country. This includes a specialized filtration system, temperature control chillers and diet, which primarily consists of fish.

The Honolulu Zoo's Ectotherm Complex opened on November 20, 2017, and houses many species of turtles, snakes, lizards, snails, frogs, salamanders and butterflies, many of which are listed as endangered. A native endemic invertebrate breeding lab is also located at the Ectotherm, and in partnership with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Honolulu Zoo is propagating species of Hawaiian snails and Kamehameha butterflies to be released in to the wild.

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