The story from California says that the mountain yellow-legged frog has disappeared from 90 percent of its habitat and that less than 100 of them exist in the wild. Chytrid fungus has decimated this species, placing it at the top of the list of amphibian species in North America whose survival depends on establishing a captive breeding program — either at zoos or in stand alone biosecure facilities. Now, here’s the kicker: the price tag for doing this for the mountain yellow-legged is, um, $100,000. That’s how much it costs for a nice addition to a house, or a summer home, or minor road repair work.

Amphibian Ark has a plan, in conjunction with zoos, to save the mountain yellow-legged, and I personally have seen two companies come very close to writing a check that would save this species. Why is this so hard?

A big reason is that it’s not about being carbon neutral, which rightfully so is commanding corporations’ attention nowadays. Another reason is that people are only slowing coming around to realizing that the amphibian crisis is for real. The polar bears — we all understand what’s happening to them. But frogs? They’re so little you often can’t see them even when you’re looking for them. 

But watch the first 2 minutes of this video below, which explains why amphibians are so important. Keep watching if you want to understand what’s killing them, and the plan for averting this mass extinction. The speaker is Kevin Zippel, the program officer for Amphibian Ark, and if you keep watching the video long enough you’ll hear him say this: “That’s only $100,000 per species. You can’t get better conservation value for that.”

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