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Giant salamanders with 'panda' eyes put on display at Shimane museum

Japanese giant salamanders with spots near their eyes like pandas are seen at Hanzake Nature Museum of Mizuho in Ohnan, Shimane Prefecture. (Mainichi)

OHNAN, Shimane -- A local museum here has put Japanese giant salamanders with panda-like spots near their eyes on special display until May 8.

    Normally the salamanders -- a nationally-designated special natural monument -- at the Hanzake Nature Museum of Mizuho are off-limits to visitors. In 2013, the museum became the first in the nation to succeed in artificially-raising the salamanders to lay and hatch young. The "panda"-like salamanders were born that year and have grown to around 15 centimeters in length. Their spots are said to be meant as camouflage to make the animals look like rocks.

    Akihiro Ito, 50, a curator at the museum, says, "I had never seen (a Japanese giant salamander with) black spots near their eyes (before these ones.)"

    Streamers of Japanese giant salamanders similar to traditional carp streamers were flapping in the wind in front of the museum on Children's Day, drawn by local children last year for the 15th anniversary of the museum's opening. "Hanzake" is the local name for Japanese giant salamanders.

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