Wednesday 20 June 2018

Chester Zoo joins unlikely group to save salamander species from extinction

It has joined forces with an order of nuns to develop a breeding programme for the Lake Patzcuaro salamander.

The salamanders live in Mexico’s third largest lake, Lake Patzcuaro (Chester Zoo)
The salamanders live in Mexico’s third largest lake, Lake Patzcuaro (Chester Zoo)

By Emily Chudy, Press Association

An unlikely collaborative has joined forces to save one of the world’s rarest amphibians from the brink of extinction.

Chester Zoo, Michoacana University, a Mexican government fisheries centre and a group of Mexican nuns have come together to develop a breeding programme for the Lake Patzcuaro salamander.

In a video, which now has over 28,000 views on Facebook, Chester Zoo explains the group of nuns used to harvest the salamanders for use in medicines, and now breed and care for them to protect the species.

You HAVE to see this story... An order of Mexican NUNS are helping our conservationists save a critically endangered amphibian from extinction 👏

Posted by Chester Zoo on Thursday, June 7, 2018

The salamanders, also locally known as “achoques”, live in Mexico’s third largest lake, Lake Patzcuaro.

Latest research indicates there are fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild, however the new breeding plan aims to boost numbers and re-energise the wild population.

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(Chester Zoo)

Dr Gerardo Garcia, Chester Zoo’s curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates, said: “The Lake Patzcuaro salamander is a very unusual species that is now perilously close to the edge of existence and requires immediate action if we are to establish more numbers and save them.

“The nuns deserve enormous credit in keeping this species alive… We are fighting to breed a thriving population for eventual reintroduction back into the wild.”

The species is a unique type of salamander, as it spends its whole life in its larval form. Instead of evolving or migrating to land, it keeps its gills and lives in fresh water.

Press Association

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