It’s simply terrific news for amphibians that Jean-Michel Cousteau has climbed aboard Amphibian Ark as a patron — another iconic figure joining Sir David Attenborough and Jeff Corwin on our froggy Mt. Rushmore. Here’s the email that Cousteau just sent to everyone who signed the online “save the frog” petition:

Thank you for recently joining thousands around the world who are petitioning our governments to take actions to save amphibians. I don’t need to tell you that frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians are facing the most significant mass extinction since the dinosaurs. I’m Jean-Michel Cousteau, and I am writing to you on behalf of Amphibian Ark, the global nonprofit organization that is coordinating the emergency rescue of the most threatened amphibian species. I am joining Sir David Attenborough, Jeff Corwin, and thousands of zoos, aquaria, and conservation organizations to support Amphibian Ark in rallying our planet to avert this mass extinction.

“I write this to you on the eve of Feb. 29, 2008, which is called Leap Day in the United States and, in this special “Year of the Frog,” is being call the International Day of the Frog. Our collective success will come down to the money that is raised – from companies, and governments, and individuals like you and me. I am heartened at hearing stories of grade school children asking their birthday party guests to make donations to Amphibian Ark in lieu of a gift; and a British Isles couple that asked for donations to Amphibian Ark instead of wedding presents.

“This indeed is a cause where small donations can add up to the saving of an endangered species. The physical plan for rescuing the most critically threatened amphibians involves converting trailer-sized containers into breeding centers, and training people to oversee the species’ return to healthy populations. The cost of saving an entire species under this plan is $100,000 – compared to other wildlife rescue, this is an amazingly efficient plan.

You are among the thousands who are the first to “jump in” to the amphibian issue. We are counting on you to multiply this number. Here’s what I am asking you to consider:

  • Forward this email to 10 people you respect and will thoughtfully consider joining us on what may be considered, years from now, the greatest wildlife “save” in history. Ask them to visit www.amphibianark.org , learn more about the pending crisis — and they can sign the petition on that Web site.
  • Stay informed of local conservation and education efforts in your area regarding this crisis. Zoos across the world are holding special educational events tomorrow (Feb. 29) and throughout the year.
  • Write your government representative to urge him or her to look into this issue, confer with local zoos and conservation departments, and do all that can be done to save this class of animal life.
  • Make a donation, large or small, to Amphibian Ark through its Web site ( www.amphibianark.org ). Or mail a check to the address at the bottom of this email.

Frogs are a crucial part of the ecosystem, and they act as indicators to the environment’s health. These remarkable creatures may hold the key to unlocking diseases such as depression, stroke, seizures, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It is imperative that we preserve these creatures for ourselves and future generations.

Thank you for being a part of the solution. Through an active dialogue we can generate awareness and education about this issue. Visit www.amphibianark.org  for donation and sponsorship information.  Sincerely,  Jean-Michel Cousteau  P.S. The Amphibian Ark mailing address is: Amphibian Ark, c/o IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, 12101 Johnny Cake Ridge Road, Apple Valley, MN 55124, USA  (952)997-9800 / fax: (952)997-9803  www.amphibianark.org