COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The recent reintroduction of the Eastern hellbender salamander—the largest in North America—into Ohio waterways is part of a cooperative project, led by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Toledo Zoo, a Toledo high school, the Wilds, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
A total of 255 of the slimy salamanders, nicknamed “mudpuppies” in some parts, were released into the Kokosing River that flows through portions of Morrow and Knox counties.
The goal is to repopulate the river with the hellbender salamanders that have suffered that were once abundant in the Eastern United States, from the waters of the Allegheny River in southwestern New York down to Alabama.
Since 1983, the Eastern hellbender has been on the federal list of special concern, due to drastically declining numbers related to a loss of habitat, primarily from too much silt deposited in the waters.
This group of young adult salamanders was raised at the Columbus Zoo, and received microchips for tracking over the next several years.
*Video courtesy of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium