The Story of the Axolotl

Daniel Garcia, Staff Writer

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The axolotl was once a species that flourished in the lakes of Chalco and Xochimilco without any disturbance. As time passed on, their homes were drained and polluted by the residents of Mexico City and now these beautiful creatures are becoming more and more extinct by the day. Is it really okay for the lives of other animals to be ruined by our needs and lack of care for the environment? Endangering these creatures is a morally wrong action that many of us don’t see our contribution in and if we keep this up, there may not be any more beautiful creatures left for us to admire.

Axolotls have extraordinary abilities and traits, so allowing this species to disappear from reality is preventing the possibility of obtaining the key to extraordinary scientific technologies, which can aid in medical practices. They have the ability to regenerate, but in a more sophisticated manner than their relatives(The Salamanders). It can regenerate its limbs, jaw, tail, spinal cord, skin, and other things without any evidence of scarring throughout their lives. Also, it is amazingly 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than mammals.

In the last century, Axolotls have faced many factors that have led to the decline in their population, such as near-total habitat loss. Lake Xochimilco was partially drained and is now mostly used as a system of canals in part of Mexico City, and Lake Chalco was fully drained to prevent flooding in the 1970s. Even before these lakes were drained, the pollution from Mexico City was greatly affecting the axolotl. When storms flooded the sewer systems of Mexico City, it would cause spills of raw sewage to overflow into the canals and greatly poison the axolotls, killing many of them off. However, these spills were not the only thing that affected them. Two invasive species, known as the Asian Carp and Tilapia enjoy preying on the axolotl eggs and juveniles, which in turn decreased the population.

The Government of Mexico sought to protect the axolotl by placing it under the special protection category, but soon it may be amended to a higher-risk category. The species is used in physiological and biomedical research, so there are several captive colonies around the world, but the re-introduction of captive-bred axolotls is not recommended until threats can be mitigated, and disease and genetic risks to the wild populations assessed. Hopefully, the measures taken to protect the axolotl will allow it’s population to return to its former glory.