This week the National Zoo in Washington, DC held a VIP reception to welcome representatives of a unique species from Asia. It was covered by TV and newspapers and attended by foreign dignitaries.
And no, it was not about pandas! For a change, the ugly got its turn in the spotlight.
The event was the official opening of the new exhibit and breeding facility for Japanese giant salamanders. Unlike the little hand-held critters that probably come to mind when you think of salamanders, these guys can grow to be five feet long and over fifty pounds. The Japanese have designated them “special natural treasures,” recognizing that just because you look like a pile of mud and pebbles at the bottom of a stream, that doesn't mean you're not precious.
The zoo hopes to be the first in the United States to breed the salamanders. In the wild, their courtship is itself rather ugly, since males can fight for mates so viciously that some die from their injuries. Fortunately there's no need for that at the zoo, so perhaps it will be more like the cartoon produced for the occasion:
See the rest of the comic here and more pictures here.
-Wombat (No Relation)