Dusky Gopher Frogs are one of the most endangered frogs in the US, with possibly only around 100 animals surviving in the wild. Around 1,400 tadpoles were produced by Henry Doorly Zoo, using eggs collected from one of their female frogs, and sperm collected from males at Henry Doorly Zoo and from males at Memphis Zoo.

This is the first time that sperm has been collected from frogs at one zoo, transported to a second zoo, and used to successfully produce tadpoles. Hopefully, processes like this one will be used more often to bolster the numbers of endangered amphibians in captivity.

More information on this story is available on the Omaha.com web site.

Houston Zoo received a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to begin a new conservation education program called Toad Trackers, and they have recently completed their first two classes.

In the Toad Tracker program, teenagers are monitoring wild Gulf Coast Toads (Bufo nebulifer) within the zoo grounds. It is a series of classes in the classroom and in the field, and they also learn about global amphibian declines, in addition to the field training which focuses on collecting morphological, environmental and geographic data (GPS).

The students are thorougyl enjoying themselves so far, and hopefully, are taking away important messages about looking after the environment and amphibians in general. The program also includes a post analysis session after the field training, which includes organizing and answering the data they collected and they must answer several conservation discussion questions. They have to do this to become a certified expert “Toad Tracker”.

More information about this program can be found on the Zoo’s web site, http://www.houstonzoo.org/toad-trackers/

This is another example of a great program developed by zoos to help conserve the world’s amphibians – what programs are your zoos involved with?

A Yellow-spotted Bell Frog. Photo: Michael McFadden

Some great news was reported during the past week here in Australia – the rediscovery after 30 years of the Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea). Researchers from the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water confirmed the sighting of the species in the Southern Highlands, south of Sydney.

Six tadpoles have been collected and have been taken to Taronga Zoo, where they will form the founders of what zoo staff hope will be a successful breeding program, eventuating in the release of captive-bred animals back to the wild. Taronga Zoo staff have been involved in serveal highly successful breeding programs for other amphibian species, including the Southern Corroboree Frog, Spotted Tree Frog,  Booroolong Frog, and the Green and Golden Bell Frog.

This discovery is really exciting news – something that is refreshing amongst the world-wide decline of amphibians. We mustn’t forget though, that amphibians around the world need our help to prevent further extinctions.

Nice to see this effort from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums:

Zoos and aquariums across the country will hold events and activities to raise awareness about amphibian conservation. Scheduled events include live encounters with amphibians, informative amphibian exhibits, programs on “frog friendly” backyards, zookeeper talks about amphibian ecosystems, crafts, contests, games, prizes, and all kinds of family fun.


It is estimated that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, with their demonstrated expertise in endangered species breeding programs and commitment to conservation, are meeting this challenge. Learn more at http://www.aza.org/ConScience/spring-forward/.

WHAT: Spring Forward for Amphibians!

WHEN: The switch to Daylight Savings time on or before March 8th.

WHERE: At an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium near you http://www.aza.org/FindZooAquarium/.

CONTACT: Courtney Jordan, AZA, 301-562-0777, ext. 235

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit www.aza.org.

Funny item. Full store here.

Attenborough ‘inspires’ frog mating

Love was certainly in the air when naturalist Sir David Attenborough visited ZSL London Zoo.

Eight Mission Golden-eyed Tree frogs, which had lived at Reptile House for almost three years without mating, finally did the deed during his visit.

Keepers admitted it was more likely the amphibians finally mated because of a humidifier placed in their new tank.

Kudos to Dallas Zoo for this video that captures the key information.

I’ve written on several occasions that Amphibian Ark needs corporate sponsors to make the amphibian rescue plan fully operational. So it mildly steamed me this morning to read an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that mocked my local zoo for featuring an exhibit sponsored by an insurance company. I’ve pasted the editorial below, complete with all the “circle Rs” to point out the commercial ties that a modern day zoo makes. So seeing sponsor names in a zoo is bad, right? Wrong. It just means that the zoo is getting creative to find the money to execute its mission. The St. Louis Zoo is a leading force in saving the endangered hellbender salamander, and its CEO, Jeffrey Bonner, is a founding member of Amphibian Ark. Hey, now you’re messing with family!

So, bring on more corporate sponsorships, and let’s embrace their help to avert what could be the most significant mass extinction since the dinosaur. Here’s that editorial:

Giddy for geckoes
It’s tough making ends meet at the St. Louis Zoo®, what with that free
admission thing and all those international wildlife conservation programs.
That’s why the Zoo® has all those extra attractions you have to pay for, and
fundraising drives and expensive parking, not to mention lots and lots of
souvenir stands and concession counters.

Now comes the traveling GEICO® Gecko® exhibit, sponsored by the Association of
Zoos and Aquariums®. The insurance company, a unit of Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway® group, has sent its popular TV lizard to the Emerson®
Children’s Zoo®, along with a collection of “giant day geckos,” a species
native to Madagascar and other Indian Ocean® islands.

(A day gecko differs slightly from a night gecko, sometimes known as a “lounge

The GEICO Gecko® will appear at the Children’s Zoo® (make that the Emerson®
Children’s Zoo) on Saturdays between now and Dec. 30. (Hint: It’s really a guy
in a lizard suit.) The day geckos (or is that “gecki?”) will be hanging out, of
course, daily.

GEICO® will make a contribution to wildlife conservation at each zoo® where its
geckos® stop in the next three years.

Next: Take the kids to the AFLAC® duck pond.

This is a story we hope to see more and  more often in the years ahead: herpetologists and zoos releasing threatened amphibian species back into the wild. Full story here. Excerpt below:

PORTLAND – As eggs, they were rescued from the perils that have all but decimated their population. As tadpoles, they hatched under the watchful eyes of zookeepers. Now they have begun developing their land legs, taking the final step toward a release back into the wild, where conservationists hope they will have a fighting chance.

Around 290 endangered Oregon spotted frogs are being head-started into young adulthood at the Oregon Zoo in an attempt to save a species imperiled by loss of habitat, invasive predators and the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which has quickly spread from Africa to threaten amphibian populations worldwide.

A solid story on Amphibian Ark and the crisis from the city of Johannesburg’s Web site. Nice to see the global collaboration with quotes from the CEOs of zoos (Johannesburg and St. Louis) that are 14,153 kilometers separated from one another. Here’s an excerpt:

The mass extinction of amphibian species would be catastrophic, say the experts, who are calling on all people to help save frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.

A THIRD to a half of all amphibian species is in danger of disappearing in our lifetime, says Steven van der Spuy, the chief executive officer of the Johannesburg Zoo.

Amphibians, which act as bio-indicators, are listed as threatened; their potential mass extinction could be the most cataclysmic since the dinosaur era. But the Amphibian Ark is racing to the rescue, partnering the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.

 The SSC is the Species Survival Commission; it is a unit of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, based in Switzerland.

Having declared 2008 the Year of the Frog, the Amphibian Ark and its partners are working to raise awareness crucial to the survival of amphibians, and to draw attention to conservation efforts. Calls are being made to the public, the United Nations, governments, international organisations and world zoos to team up to save the species.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 1 856 of the 5 743 known amphibian species – almost one in three – are threatened with extinction. “The [Johannesburg Zoo] has made resources and space available for the captive propagation of these frogs,” Van der Spuy notes.

Amphibian species in the city have declined markedly in recent years, mainly because of the destruction and degradation of their habitats – mostly wetlands – for the construction of residential developments.

Congratulations to Vancouver Aquarium for this fantastic “save the frogs” poster.

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