If you’ve never seen an axolotl, behold: It’s a Mexican salamander with a face like an anime character. (There are a few varieties, and they’re not all QUITE this cute, but they basically all either look like friendly cartoon dragons or evil cartoon dragons.)
Axolotls are seriously adorable, but they’re also in serious danger. Between 1998 and 2008, their population dropped from 1,500 per square mile in their range to 25. And it’s not because they’re all being recruited to train for Pokemon fights. It’s the usual culprits: habitat loss, invasive species, and pollution. Luckily, in the few years since their predicament started to get attention, people have been establishing axolotl sanctuaries — which are now close to edging out sloth sanctuaries as the place where I want to spend my retirement.
Get Grist in your inbox