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Mexico City's walking fish
1060  Light Myanmar 

Frankie was missing half his face. A fungal infection had come over the little axolotl, a native amphibian of the waterways of Mexico City. But Frankie, along with other axolotls, have a special talent. Veterinarian and axolotl researcher Erika Servín Zamora, who was also Frankie’s caregiver, said she was astounded to see the animal’s remarkable regeneration abilities that she’d read about in her studies. Within two months, Frankie had grown a new, fully functional eye, and life was back to normal in his tank at the city’s Chapultepec Zoo.

Frankie might not have been so lucky in his native habitat, just about 30km south of the zoo. The axolotl, though gaining traction as a symbol of Mexico City, and specifically of the southern borough of Xochimilco, a Unesco World Heritage site, is nearly extinct in the wild due to increases in invasive fish species and water pollution in the city’s troubled canals. Making things worse, Frankie is an albino axolotl, which means he’s light pink with frilly, pink gills coming off his head – he’d be easy prey for Xochimilco’s invasive tilapia in the dark, murky waters.

Known locally as “water monsters”, axolotls have a love-them-or-leave-them appearance. For some, these 20cm-long, soft-skinned, water dwellers are considered adorable, with the appearance of a perpetual smile. For others, these four-toed amphibians are just plain odd.

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