Baby ´Freaks of Nature´ Born at SEA LIFE Sanctuary

A pair of hyper rare creatures that are also genuine ´freaks of nature´ have given birth to fifty babies that will never grow up.

Axolotls - a kind of salamander that lives out its entire life in larval form - survive in one solitary lake in Mexico, but now they are also flourishing at the SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Hunstanton, Norfolk.

Marine experts at the sanctuary were thrilled to discover the tiny offspring, and hope to rear enough to full size to help set up more breeding stations at other SEA LIFE centres across Europe.
Axolotls - a kind of salamander
Axolotls - a kind of salamander ″To successfully breed creatures as rare and endangered as these offers hope for their long term survival,″ said displays supervisor Kieran Copeland.

″Even their one surviving wild home Lake Xochimilco is under real threat from the growth of Mexico City, but if it can be preserved and perhaps extended in the future, then captive bred axolotls may be needed to help the species recover,″ he added.

Members of the salamander family, axolotls fail to undergo the metamorphosis which other salamanders undergo to transform them from aquatic to land animals.
″They´re missing a vital thyroid hormone that is needed for metamorphosis,″ said Kieran. ″Apparently an injection of the right hormone can trigger transformation, but otherwise they stay babies for ever.″

The Hunstanton baby axolotls are now receiving special care in their own nursery tank in the Sanctuary's special marine hospital, but can be seen by visitors.

They are still only about 10 mm in length, a fraction of the size of the larger babies which spawned them, which remain on display in the main aquarium.
Issued by Hunstanton SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Nigel Croasdale on 01485 533576
Press Release date: 14th April 2008

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