Although I was already planning on attending Axolotl Day when one of my editors
pressured politely asked me to cover the event, I had not the slightest clue what an axolotl was. But as I exited the Sci-Li elevator and entered the Science Center, I knew I was in my element.
The atmosphere was like that of a second grade birthday party. There were balloons, a face painting station, free pizza, and a raffle to win a real live axolotl (which I later learned was a critically endangered type of salamander). I entered my name into the axolotl lottery and sat down to listen to a short talk about the creatures.
The speaker gave some basic facts, and then went on to talk about his own experiences taking care of axolotls. As he spoke of all the duties associated with taking care of the animals (feeding them 50 goldfish every couple of weeks, changing the tank water 10% at a time, making sure the rocks are the correct size, etc…) I had second thoughts about entering the raffle.
My concern didn’t last long, however, as the festivities began.
I had a blast. I played “pin the gills on the axolotl,” participated in a round of
rigged “axolotl jeopardy,” and someone even painted axolotl gills on my face.
I also spent a considerable amount of time staring deeply into axolotl art.
At 5:00 the raffle results were announced. I was skeptical of the legality of gifting endangered animals to college students (Endangered Species Act anyone?), but my fears were quelled when I met the raffle winner, who coincidentally was named Axel.
With a giant fish tank and “roommate who loves animals,” Axel is well qualified to take care of his new axolotl, which he has named “Axel Otl” after himself.
Axel and everyone else celebrated the new friendship by ironically eating axolotl-shaped cake.
It seems like the only ones not having fun were the axolotls themselves.
Images via Jackson Cantrell ’18.