The world’s largest amphibian has arrived at London Zoo.

Measuring more than a metre in length, Professor Wu, a Chinese giant salamander, is the face of the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) new conservation project, which aims to prevent the species from becoming extinct.  

Named after one of the project’s partners in China, Professor Wu is the only Chinese giant salamander in the UK, and the 19-year-old male arrived at the end of November from Rotterdam Zoo to become the ambassador for the project.  

Giant salamanders are often referred to as “living fossils” due to their 179 million year heritage, and zoo visitors can see Professor Wu at ZSL’s new exhibit, which features a sandy floor and rocky caverns.  

Classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are the world’s largest amphibian and facing threat of extinction due to being over-harvested for human consumption as well as habitat loss and destruction in their native China.  

Team leader of ZSL’s reptile and amphibian team Ben Tapley said: “Chinese giant salamanders may not be everyone’s idea of ‘beautiful’, but we think Professor Wu is more than capable of winning over our visitors.  

“He’s an impressive size, measuring 1.3m from snout to tail and, on top of that, he has a feisty personality – it took a team of four of us to move him to his new custom-built home.  

“As well as an exciting new arrival here at the zoo, this giant salamander is a great representative for our ground breaking conservation project in China, where we really want to turn the fate of this critically endangered and evolutionary distinct species around.” 

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