A Fleeting Wonder

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Axolotls are a wonder of nature: These amphibians have the ability to stay young – known as neoteny – and fully regenerate lost limbs.

But sadly these unique abilities haven’t prevented the salamander species from becoming critically endangered.

Mainly found in Mexico City’s Lake Xochimilco, censuses have shown their populations have significantly dipped in the past years.

More than two decades ago, there were about 6,000 of these tiny salamanders for every square kilometer in the lake. But the last count from 2014 showed only around 36 axolotls per square kilometer, according to Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) ecologist Luis Zambrano, who helped conduct the recent census.

As a result, UNAM is stepping up to protect one of the country’s most unique amphibians, NPR reported.

It has relaunched a campaign to ask people to virtually adopt axolotls. The project will provide donors with an adoption certificate and allow them to name their pet salamander. They can pay for the creature’s meal and their habitat.

Zambrano and his team explained that the same campaign last year raised nearly $30,000, which allowed conservationists to maintain 40 refuges.

However, they will need 10 times that figure to ensure the axolotl populations return to healthy levels.

In recent years, the little salamander has become popular thanks to social media and the Minecraft video game, which has led to an increased demand for pet axolotls.

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