Honolulu Zoo welcomed new residents Monday.
Three Japanese giant salamanders — females Panda and Maru, and a male named Peace — were gifts from Asa Zoo in Hiroshima, Japan to honor the 55th anniversary of the sister-city relationship with the City and County of Honolulu.
The salamander is nationally protected in Japan, considered a national natural treasure, and has been named a special natural monument by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs since 1952.
Honolulu is one of only a few zoos in the United States to feature these ancient amphibians.
“We’re hoping and we’re very optimistic that we will be very successful at reproducing the species, one because we have such a tight relationship with the Asa Zoo, and we exchange and communicate with them regularly as far as husbandry and care, and we also are active in conservation efforts in Japan and we do surveys for Japanese giant salamanders in the river systems,” explained Laura Debnar, reptile curator. “Japan is also (made up of) islands as well, so they face similar things such as invasive species as we face here in Hawaii.”
The new exhibit includes a specialized filtration system and temperature control chillers.
It’s part of the zoo’s Ectotherm Complex, which opened last November.