This unusual looking creature hasn’t had the easiest start in life. It is one of the most Critically Endangered amphibian’s in the world, but was discovered in a cereal box by UK Border Force agents as someone attempted to illegally smuggle him and three others into the country. Today, this Chinese giant salamander, which has been given the name Professor ‘Lew’, will make its debut at ZSL London Zoo.
Shortly after the UK Border Force found these animals, they asked London Zoo to home them based on their previous experience in looking after these unique aquatic giants. Professor Lew, which means ‘dragon keepers’ in Chinese, will now be living in a state-of-the-art tank in the attraction’s Reptile House.
“They’re definitely unique,” explained ZSL’s Curator of Amphibians, Ben Tapley. “Often referred to as living fossils, Chinese giant salamanders have remained largely unchanged for millions of years – as the only zoo in the country to have one in residence it’s a real privilege to be able to introduce the species to our visitors.”
Keepers estimate the new arrival as being four-years-old. Measuring 30cm in length, Professor Lew has the potential to grow to be as long as 1.8 metres and weigh a whopping 54kg. The other three individuals are currently being cared for behind the scenes, with the hope of one day introducing one of the others to Professor Lew as a potential future mate. The other two may find new homes in other zoos across the UK.
Chinese giant salamander are at risk of extinction because they are considered to be a delicacy in their native home of China.