Submitted by Richard Muirhead on Wed, 08/12/2015 - 18:01

Please can anyone tell me what the (then) Marquess of Sligo was doing in Hong Kong in the early 1920s as I want to now the circumstances surrounding this person finding a giant salamander at the Botanical Gardens in the early 1920s.

George Ulick Browne, 6th Marquis of Sligo and the Marchioness did a seven month world tour from Jan-July 1923. They certainly stopped in Japan and China, although I can't find any information about them being in Hong Kong apart from the story about the salamander. 

I used th following:


Boulenger, E.G., 1924: On a new Giant Salamander, living in the Society's Gardens. Proc Soc. London

  • A NEW GIAKT SALAMANDER. 173 5. On a new Giant Snlamxader, living in the Society's By E. G. BOULENGER, F.Z.S., Director of Gardens. the Aquarium. [Received January 2,1924 : Read March 4, 1924.1 The Zoological Society early last year received a notification from the Marquess of Sligo, who was then in Peking, that whilst recently visiting Hong Kong he had come across a giant salamander which was living in captivity in the Botanical Gardens there, and tha t he had prevailed upon Sir Reginald Stubbs, the Governor of the Island, to present it to the Society. Although a giant Chinese Salamander had been described by Blanchard * under the name of Sieboklia iluvidiann, by most authorities the giant salamander of China was regarded as identical with Megalobatrmhus muximus of Japan. I have myself examined a number of Chinese specimens in the British Museum collection, and can find no distinction between them and the previously described Japanese species. W e naturally assumed tha t the Hong Kong specimen would prove to be the well-known and only Old World species which occurs in the mountain &reams of both Japan and China. On arrival in our gardens early in June, the salamander, R large specimen measuring 99 cm. in length, appeared to me to differ in various respects from any salamander previously recorded. Investigation showed that not only was the head longer and flatter than in Megalobat~achus muximus, and without the characteristic tubercles of tha t species, but tha t the nostrils were much more widely separated from one another. As a result of there being no prominent tubercles on the head, the eyes, which in M. maximzas are scarcely discernible with the naked eye, are in this Hong Kong specimen quite prominent. I have therefore no hesitation in describing this salamander as new, and I name it Jfegulobatrmhzis sligoi, after the Marquess of Sligo, who was responsible for securing the animal for the Zoological Society. MEGALOBATRACHUS SLIUOI, sp. 11. Habit stout. Head large, very much depressed ; snout rounded ; nostrils small, widely separated ; eyes small but prominent ; the distance between tlie eye and the labial border contained three and a half times in the distance betaween the nostrils. Body squat, depressed. Limbs short, stout; fingers and toes depiessed j outer fingers, toes, and fibula bordered with mem- branes. Tail short, strongly compressed, finned, and the end * Compt. Rend. Acad. Pnriq, I\aii. 1871.
  • 174 A NEW GIANT SALAMANDER. rounded. on the head; a thick cutaneous fold along each side. tion :-Brown spotted with black. following important points :- Skin with a few minute tubercles on the body, none Oolora- From Megalobatrochus maximus it differs, among others, in the M. maximus. M. sligoi. Head flattish, covered all €lead very flat, smooth ; one- over with prominent tubercles ; fifth total lengh. one-seventh total length. Distance between eye and Distance between eye and labial border contaiped 14 times labial border contained 33 times in distance between nostrils. in distance between nostrils. The Marquess of Sligo has kindly provided me with the following notes on the history of this interesting batraclian :- ‘‘ In April 1920 there was an unusually violent storm of wind and rain in Hong Kong which did much damage to the Botanical Gardens. Among other damage, it caused an 18-inch drain to be choked, causing in its turn the pipe to burst. The result was the scouring out of a long length of drain mid much ground round about it. The giant salamander was found on the scour, having evidently been washed down from somewhere, and thrown out at the end. Since its capture it lived in a circular basin 4 feet in diameter with 6 inches depth of water. It was fed once a day on live tadpoles. At times when the supply of tadpoles ran short, small quantities of raw beef were substituted. †Sir Reginald Stubbs informs me that it is practically certain that the new salamander is not a Hong-Kong-born creature. It appears that specimens which have from time to time been brought over from the mainland and been placed in the fountain in the Botanical Gardens have escaped. It is therefore highly probable that the salamander under discussion is one of these animals.

Thanks very much for this information,I have never read such a full account. I wonder if there are any other cases of giant salamanders turning up in Hong Kong,hidden away in old newspaper acounts? Do you know where the archives of Stubbs are housed?

I took a look at the old HK papers that are online and couldnt find any referance to another giant salamander- one of the accounts I read mentioned the possibility of it being brought to HK from China, as they did in Taiwan. 

If there is a Stubbs archive somewhere I couldn't find it online. 

His place of residence in 1932 was 'The Red House' Wateringbury, Kent- I dont imagine he moved house between then and his death in 1947 (retired: 1939). Unfortunately the house has been divided into apartments so I assume the family is no longer in residence. He had three children: William, Guy and Dorothy- both William and Guy were married. With some luck it might be possible to contact one of their descendants to ask if Stubbs' archives are around.

I wonder if it was the same salamander that was mentioned on page 4 of the 1920 Botanical & Forestry report:

After a heavy rainstorm on April the 29th, a reptile 42 inches in length was found near the fountain in the old Garden, it was captured and removed to one of the Aviary tanks, and was later identified by Mr. A. H. Crook as a large specimen of the Giant Salamander-Cryptobranchus maximus.

PS Richard, please can you update your email address at ? Currently I get an error email every time someone replies to your post, because your old @ntl... address no longer works.

Thanks for more information on the 1920 giant salamander,I expect it`s the same one as Sligo`s salamander.What puzzles  me is that there are so few(only this 1920 one) salamanders that have turned up in Hong Kong.

My orangehome e-mail address hasn`t changed,it`s just my home computer has bust and the broad band connection may not be working.You could try instead.