Episode 7: Salamander of the Gods
The axolotl has been called a “conservation paradox” — a creature that is ubiquitous in pet stores, science labs and pop culture… yet almost extinct in the wild.
The axolotl is an amphibian with incredible regenerative abilities. It lives in only one place outside captivity: the waters of Lake Xochimilco, in Mexico City. Now, a team of scientists is working to secure its future by looking to its past. Working with local farmers, they’re reconstructing a system of chinampas, or island gardens, pioneered by the Aztecs — to restore the axolotl’s habitat. A few hours’ drive to the west, another team is working to save a closely related salamander species by teaming up with Dominican nuns who have raised the creatures in captivity for well over a century. The unusual alliances show that saving species can be as much about culture and heritage as it is about science.