The home of beloved newts at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley is in jeopardy unless the garden’s Japanese pool can be renovated this summer, officials at the garden said.

The officials are trying to raise $150,000 by June 30 for the renovations, which must be made because repairs are no longer feasible to maintain the pool’s structural integrity.

Two species of newts have delighted visitors for decades. California newts and rough-skinned newts come yearly to breed in the Japanese pool, which anchors the garden’s Asian collection of plants.

California newts (left) and rough-skinned newts come yearly to breed in the Japanese pool at the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley. Garden officials said they need to repair the pool before newt breeding season begins this summer. (Photos courtesy National Park Service and Bob Swingle/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via Bay City News)

“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,” former garden Director Emeritus Paul Licht said in a statement.

“I became alarmed when the population showed a noticeable decline during the drought years but was encouraged to see more breeding this past winter,” Licht said. “Unfortunately, the newts are now facing a new, perhaps more serious threat: the loss of their home!”

The Japanese pool was built with materials donated over 80 years ago from the Japanese exhibit at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco.

The garden is leaking and has been for years. Patching the leaks is now useless. Repairs must be made this summer before the newts’ next breeding season, garden officials said.

Donations to the repair project can be made online.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.