(Pass this along, please...) It’s a simple idea: Make this a “hop til you drop” holiday shopping season, and set aside a small portion of your spending for a green gift to save frogs and other amphibians that, otherwise, are hopping toward the most significant mass extinction since the dinosaurs. Last month, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reported that:

“Species are becoming extinct a hundred times faster than the rate shown in the fossil record. Of the major vertebrate groups that have been assessed comprehensively, over 30 percent of amphibians, 23 percent of mammals and 12 percent of birds are threatened.”

The good news is, there is a logical, relatively simple plan to avert the amphibian extinction crisis. It’s called Amphibian Ark. More about that in a second.

Let’s say you’re that mythical, average person who told National Retail Federation pollsters that you plan to spend $923 on gifts this season.  A gift of only $50 to a wildlife cause represents just 5 percent of that amount. (Honestly, would you really miss it all that much?) If 2,000 people did that — let’s see, that’s one of every 151,500 people who live in the United States — it would raise $100,000, or enough to save a species like the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog of California.

Amphibian Ark brings the most threatened amphibian species into “protective custody” before they disappear due to loss of habitat, pollution, and even an “amphibian chytrid fungus” that’s spreading across the planet, possibly exacerbated by global warming (Kermit’s right: it’s not easy being green). Amphibian Ark puts the species in dedicated, biosecure facilities at zoos, aquariums, and other institutions around the world for safekeeping and breeding. These rescued amphibians will be reintroduced into the wild when the original threats have been controlled.

Amphibian Ark is a joint effort of three credible, proven conservation organizations — the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG).

If you’re ready to hop til you drop before you shop til you drop, you can make a donation at this Web site:  http://www.amphibianark.org/donations.htm. But if for whatever reason frogs or salamanders aren’t your scene, do some research and give to a wildlife organization that’s making a difference.

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