Updated: Jul 3
Shreveport Aquarium will have some new quirky creatures soon. On Saturday, Sept. 10, the aquarium will unveil its new ‘Rainforest Way’ Gallery. Rainforests are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet and the most at risk. To help educate visitors about threats facing our rainforests today the Shreveport Aquarium’s new gallery will feature the charismatic, critically endangered Axolotl.
Axolotls are fascinating animals with incredible regenerative abilities. These adorable amphibians are pop culture icons and becoming very popular aquarium inhabitants across the globe. They can be found in captivity just about everywhere now. In the wild, however, Axolotls are only found in the highlands of Central Mexico, and their numbers are dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss, pollution and other factors. There are now more axolotls in captivity than there are in the natural world.
“Our new gallery will allow visitors to come face to face with these smiling salamanders. In this immersive experience, guests will be able to explore and learn more about Axolotls and other rainforest inhabitants making lasting connections to our aquatic world,” said Jon Whitehead, Director of Development. “At the Shreveport Aquarium the health and welfare of our animals is the top priority, the axolotls in this gallery came from populations under human care at a regional AZA Accredited Institution.”
What is an axolotl?
The Axolotl is an aquatic salamander often called a Mexican walking fish, with feathery gills, an adorable smile and some other biological oddities that have given this creature global recognition.
Unlike most amphibians, the axolotl does not typically undergo a metamorphosis to transition to life on land, so they spend their entire lives in the water.
Possibly the most distinguishing physical feature of the Axolotl is the external gills that give them their unique look. The gills are located on the head on protruding crown-like appendages and are covered in tiny gill filaments.
Unlike other salamanders, Axolotls lack eyelids, so their eyes remain open all the time. Since they tend to live in dark areas with little light, they have very poor eyesight and use their other sense to find food.
Axolotls have amazing regenerative abilities. Not only can they fully replace a lost tail or limb without leaving a scar, but axolotls can even replace parts of their brain. This ability is something that scientists believe could hold great biological value in the study of regenerative medicine, making these unusual salamanders among the most studied freshwater creatures in the world.