beat story 2

 golden-frog.jpg

Story by: Marilu Muzzi 

Disappearing amphibians

 A Tampa zoo is participating in conversation programs to aid in the amphibian declining crisis that is occuring worldwide. More than 100 species are already gone and zoos are working hard to save the remaining species, said Herps and Aquatics keeper Dan Costello.    

At Lowry Park Zoo, two endangered frogs are being bred, the Panamanian golden frog and the Puerto Rican toad. The Panamanian golden frog could become extinct in the wild in about four months, according to Costello.

 The zoo releases the Puerto Rican toad tadpoles into the wild and they plan on doing the same with the Panamanian golden frog.

In addition to frog breeding, the zoo plans on transforming its educational building into an amphibian house. The building will display various species, as well as educate the public about the amphibian crisis, said Costello. They plan on having the amphibian house finished by the beginning of next year.

AZA, the associate of American zoos and aquariums have made amphibian conservation its main focus for 2008. All zoos and aquariums that are part of AZA will be participating in some form of amphibian conservation.

American zoos and aquariums are the only organazations concerned about amphibian declines. Elsewhere, a group of scientists are working together worldwide to try and save frogs and other amphibians. These scientists are part of a nonprofit organization called Amphibian Ark. Amphibian Ark works together with other conversation groups to help ensure that survival of amphibians. Kevin Zippel is one of those scientists. He is based in New York and has been studying the amphibian decline of years.

One main threat to amphibians is the chytrid fungus and it is a worldwide concern, said Zippel. The fungus is caused by plant spores and impacts the frog by clogging its skin and preventing water and oxygen from entering, which causes the animal to dry up.

“In captivity we have found ways to treat (infected frogs) by using medicines that are used to cure athlete’s foot,” Zippel said. “But, we can’t go out and treat every amphibian in the wild, it just isn’t possible.”

Scientists are studying the bacteria found in a frog’s skin. The goal is to use selective breeding in captivity to get animals that are more resistant to the fungus.

Pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants are also a threat to amphibians. Pesticides cause deformities and affect the animals breeding abilities, according to zoo keeper Costello.

Frogs and amphibians are vital indicators to an ecosystem. If they are suffering, it is a sign of an unhealthy environment. They are highly sensitive towards their environment, because they breathe through their skin, zookeeper Costello said during a recent interview.

If they (amphibians) are being poisoned, imagine what’s going on in our own bodies,” Costello said.

If people are interested in aiding amphibian conservation in their own communities, they can volunteer with the Hillsborough River Alliance Frog Listening Network. The network provides volunteers with an audio CD that teaches them how to identify different species of frogs and toads in the area from their calls. For more information visit: http://www.hrgtf.org/froglistening.html

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One Response to “beat story 2”

  1. pleasecroak Says:

    Great news on the Amphibian Ark front: The association of biology teachers is lining up with Amphibian Ark to take on the fight to save hundreds of endangered species of frogs and other amphibians. Jeff Corwin’s video thanking them, and a link to the news release, are posted on my frog blog:
    http://frogmatters.wordpress.com/2007/11/29/jeff-corwin-video-thanks-biology-teachers-for-hopping-on-board/
    This is really important. Consider the sheer, numerical power of the partnership:
    •There are 6,000 biology teachers that are in the association…
    •And let’s say each of them has 100 students…
    •And each of those students has a sibling, and 1.5 parents, and 2 grandparents, and 2 close friends — and tells them all about the crisis
    •That’s 6,000 teachers, 600,000 students, another 600,000 sisters and brothers, 900,000 parents, 1.2 million grandparents, and another 1.2 million friends — all informed, spreading the word, demanding and taking action

    Like a frog jumping into a pond, the ripple effect of biology teachers rallying behind Amphibian Ark can be transformational for this cause. So I salute the teachers, and Jeff Corwin for doing all he can to raise awareness. You’re making a huge difference.

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