Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveils a new Japanese giant salamanders exhibit at the Honolulu Zoo’s new Ectotherm Complex this morning.
Two females — Panda and Maru — and one male — Peace — were gifted to the Honolulu Zoo on Feb. 20, 2014 by the Asa Zoo in Hiroshima, Japan to honor what was then the 55th anniversary of the sister city relationship with the City and County of Honolulu. The sister city relationship with Hiroshima was formalized on June 15, 1959.
The Honolulu Zoo is fortunate to be one of only a few zoos in the United States to feature these ancient amphibians, considered the second largest in existence.
The salamanders, endemic to Japan, dwell in a temperate forest area in Japan with cold streams and rivers. They can grow up to five-feet in length, and are threatened by habitat loss and development. Their only competition in the wild is the Chinese giant salamander, which is even larger.
The Japanese giant salamander, or Andrias japonicus, is classified as near threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is federally protected and has also been named a special natural monument by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs since 1952.