WHAT: Mayor Kirk Caldwell will welcome Japanese giant salamanders into their new home at the Honolulu Zoo today, Monday, February 12, at 10:30 a.m. with a press conference that will be 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.
WHEN: Today, Monday, February 12, at 10:30 a.m.
WHERE: Honolulu Zoo Ectotherm Complex (media should check in at the front gate to the zoo).
WHO: Mayor Caldwell, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya Jr., Zoo Director Linda Santos, Reptile Curator Laura Debnar, and Department of Enterprise Services Deputy Director Tracy Kubota.
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. The Honolulu Zoo is fortunate to be one of only a few zoos in the United States to feature these ancient amphibians.The sister city relationship with Hiroshima was formalized 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 its native country. The new exhibit includes a specialized filtration system, temperature control chillers and diet, which primarily consists of fish.
The 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.