Fun story about the Bronx Zoo’s new exhibit with the coqui frog (genus Eleutherodactylus ), native to and pride of Puerto Rico. Bronx Zoo video of it here. And listen to the nighttime call of the species here. Excerpt:

Frogs do not usually inspire national pride, but the coqui drew a large crowd, including Puerto Rican-born zoo visitors last week when the Bronx Zoo unveiled its newest exhibit. The chirping frogs are an unofficial symbol of Puerto Rico, which is their only native habitat.

Cultural connection aside, bringing the frogs to the zoo was important because amphibians are rapidly dying in the wild from a lethal fungus, said Melissa Mohring, 27, Bronx Zoo wild animal keeper.

Experts are calling the fungus a “global amphibian crisis,” she said. The fungus, Chytrid, kills amphibians within two days of exposure by attacking their skin. Because amphibians use their skin for respiration, their breathing is severely compromised by the disease. Scientists say the fungus is most likely transmitted directly from frogs to tadpoles or through infected water.

“They are comparing this die-off of amphibians to that of the dinosaurs,” Mohring said, “Because there are so many species becoming extinct all at once.”

Amphibian scientists teamed up to create a Noah’s Ark of sorts, placing amphibians from as many threatened species as possible into captivity to ensure they will not go extinct.

“It’s a beautiful sound,” said zoo visitor Isabel Belmont, 21, who has lived in Puerto Rico and New York. “Especially in a really quiet village, you hear it clearly.”

The chirping is actually a pickup line to attract mates, said Mohring, the animal keeper. In addition to being a serenade, males use the call to establish their territory and ward off predators.

 

 

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