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Large Aquatic Salamanders (Hellbenders/Cryptobranchids, Necturus, Siren, etc.) This topic covers Cryptobranchids like the hellbender and Asian giant salamanders, as well as sirens, mud puppies, and amphiumas.

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Old 15th January 2004   #1
Tim Johnson
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I stumbled across this passage in the article: Kerbet and the Japanese Giant Salamander: Early Scientific Achievements in the Amsterdam Aquarium (by A.C. Van Bruggen, published in International Zoo News Vol. 50/8, December 2003)

"The greatest achievement (now and for ever?) of the Amsterdam aquarium is the first breeding in captivity of the Japanese giant salamander. The history of the species in Amsterdam is of great interest. The first live specimen was sent from Japan by the famous explorer P.F. von Siebold in 1829 to the Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (National Museum of Natural History), Leiden. The living specimen (the survivor of two, the larger eating the smaller during the long voyage from Japan around the Cape of Good Hope to the Netherlands) was kept in the museum from its arrival (1830) but subsequently transferred on loan to the Amsterdam zoo (1840), where it lived in a tank in the snake house until its death on 3 June 1881. The corpse should have been returned to the Leiden museum, but according to Hoogmoed (1978: 101) the specimen is to be considered lost.

Two more giant salamanders received in 1893 proved to be a pair who produced their first (unfertilised) eggs on 18 September 1902; almost exactly a year later (19 September 1903) the spawn proved to be fertile. By 1922 the larvae born at that time had reached `arm's length' (Portielje and Abramsz, 1922: 288)! In fact one specimen survived in the aquarium until July 1955, having been the responsibility of three consecutive directors. The egg clusters were carefully divided, so that material became available to the eager scientists and enough was left for behavioural studies after hatching and proper raising of the next generation. At least three Ph.D. theses, mainly in the field of embryology, were based on this material (Bussy, 1904; Lange, 1906; Rooy, 1907). Japanese field workers had judged that the female guards the eggs, but Kerbert proved that they were wrong and that the male performed this duty. He also described courtship, deposition of the eggs, etc. (Kerbert, 1904). The event created such a stir in the then media that the Japanese envoy travelled from The Hague (about an hour by train) to view the wondrous happenings himself in order to report properly to his emperor. Kerbert made full use of the possibilities of the unusual event to draw attention to the zoo and aquarium under his direction, in which he eminently succeeded. Only in 1979, more than three-quarters of a century later, did this huge amphibian again reproduce in captivity, this time in a zoo in its native country (Asa Zoo, Hiroshima). This was mistakenly claimed by Kawata (2001: 318), following Kuwabara et al. (1989), to be `the first captive reproduction'."



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Old 2nd March 2007   #2
Tim Johnson
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Since I posted that, 3 years have elapsed, but I just wanted to note here that the Asa Zoo clearly acknowledges on its website that it was NOT the first to succeed at breeding A. japonicus in captivity, the Dutch were.

http://www.asazoo.jp/doubutu/zoostar...unkan-high.wmv

The page is in Japanese, but you can at least enjoy the hatching videos at the bottom of the page Click the image to open in full size.



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Old 3rd March 2007   #3
kyle
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Excellent find Tim! Thanks for posting the link -



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