Save Our Newts!

UC Botanical Garden launches $150,000 fundraising campaign for critical repairs to the Japanese Pool

The UC Botanical Garden’s Japanese Pool requires immediate renovation to protect the populations of newts that come yearly to breed in the pool, and to preserve this iconic feature that anchors the Garden’s Asian Collection of unique and rare plants. The Garden needs to raise $150,000 by June 30, 2023, to fund this critical improvement project, with work slated to begin in August, before the next breeding season.

Please give online today and help the Garden raise the much-needed funds to implement these vital repairs.

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The newts have been beloved members of the UC Botanical Garden community for decades. The Garden is home to two newt species, California newt (Taricha torosa) and rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). Their annual frolicking and egg laying in the Japanese Pool have delighted thousands of children and adults, further enhancing the already beautiful setting of this historic site.

Former Garden Director Emeritus Paul Licht says, “I started following the population almost two decades ago when I assumed the directorship of the Garden, since the newts were also one of my first research projects when I joined the Cal faculty over five decades ago. I became alarmed when the population showed a noticeable decline during the drought years but was encouraged to see more breeding this past winter. Unfortunately, the newts are now facing a new, perhaps more serious threat: the loss of their home!

Over 80 years old,  the Japanese Pool was built from materials originally used in the Japanese Exhibit at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island in San Francisco. The materials were donated to the Garden after the Exposition closed. It has been enhanced over the years but is now sadly showing the ravages of age. The Japanese Pool has been leaking for years, and many attempts have been made to patch the leaks. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated to the point where patching is insufficient. There is grave concern that the leaking poses risks to the pool’s structural integrity. The repairs can no longer wait and must be completed this summer, before the next breeding season. Please consider a gift today!

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Questions about the campaign or ways to give? Contact Marketing Manager Susan Sharman:

Added bonus! Give a gift of $250 or more, and we will send you an iconic David Lance Goines poster featuring the Japanese Pool, created exclusively for the Garden! (While supplies last)

Artwork showing an image of the stone lantern in the Japanese Pool. Colors are grey, white and black.

Sarab Seth
Sarab Seth
Paul Licht
Melanie Hofmann
Joanne Gong
Joanne Going
Sarab Seth

If you’d like to learn more about our Garden newts, here is a podcast

by former Garden Director Emeritus, Paul Licht.

Paul Licht began his career as a zoology professor at UC Berkeley. When presenting him with the Berkeley Citation, his colleagues noted “his research into the factors that determine sexual differentiation, sexual maturation and reproductive physiology in a wide variety of species-including amphibians, reptiles, and mammals-has resulted in more than 300 publications and has made him one of most respected comparative endocrinologists in the world.”

Further Reading About Newts

April, 2023, Newts Take the Stage During Annual Mating Ritual at the UC Garden, by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News

Newts perform rites of spring at UC by Joe Eaton and Ron Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle

An Extraordinary Time-Lapse Captures the Microscopic Development of a Single Cell into a Newt Kate Sierzputowski, Colossal