DETROIT (CBS Detroit) What’s a ‘palooza’ without the mud, the trash and the bands?

It’s a “mudpuppypalooza.”

The mudpuppy – a large, permanently aquatic salamander native to the Detroit River — will have a celebration in his honor from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 10 at the Belle Isle Nature Zoo.

Mudpuppypalooza will feature fun and educational activities such as mask making, games and mudpuppy cookie decorating.  The event will also include zookeeper talks, where visitors can view mudpuppies up close while learning about the species and conservation efforts on its behalf.  Admission to the Belle Isle Nature Zoo and all Mudpuppypalooza activities are free.

In 2006, the Detroit Zoological Society embarked on a program to monitor the Detroit River mudpuppies, conducting catch-and-release surveys to track populations and better detect declines.  Mudpuppies are measured, weighed and implanted with computer chips for identification before being returned to the river.

“While not a threatened species, mudpuppies are considered good environmental indicators of pollution and other potentially detrimental conditions,” said DZS Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen.   “The data gathered in our mudpuppy surveys provides a valuable baseline for monitoring the health of the Detroit River ecosystem.”

The mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) is the second-largest salamander in the western hemisphere and is considered an important part of Michigan’s aquatic ecosystem.  Unlike its amphibian cousins, the mudpuppy never forms air-breathing lungs, but rather relies on the bushy red gills behind its head to breathe under water.  The slippery salamander is typically brownish-gray with dark spots and a yellowish belly.  A mature mudpuppy ranges in size from 8 to 15 inches.

The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is located at the east end of Belle Isle near the Blue Heron Lagoon.  The Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Admission is free.  For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit


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