TORONTO ZOO IS CELEBRATING LEAP YEAR WITH AMAZING AMPHIBIAN CONSERVATION EFFORTS
The Toronto Zoo is LEAPING in anticipation of Monday, February 29, 2016! Celebrating a leap year always bring focus to the many amazing amphibians here at the Zoo. Along with our successful Frog Watch Ontario program, we are also involved in helping amphibians across North America, and throughout the world! The below features two (of many) great conservation programs Toronto Zoo coordinates to ensure the survival of endangered amphibians. You can also view the original press release HERE.
MAKING THE LEAP TO SAVE THE DUSKY GOPHER FROG
Toronto Zoo is proud to be the home of 20 Dusky gopher frogs, the most critically endangered amphibian in North America. Their habitat has been so drastically changed by humans that these small frogs now only live in a single pond in the state of Mississippi, with an estimated wild population of just 100 frogs. With the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Zoos across North America have taken up the important cause of the gopher frog in the hopes of breeding and releasing them back into restored habitats in the wild. The 20 gopher frogs that live at Toronto Zoo are the only ones found in Canada, and with the help of our highly successful animal reproduction programs, we hope to breed these frogs in 2016, adding further to the genetic diversity of the assurance population maintained by zoos.
The Dusky gopher frog however, is notoriously difficult to breed. In the wild, these frogs go through a hibernation period, where they sleep throughout the cold winter, followed by slowly waking up to warm springtime rains, and then once the temperature warms up enough, the frogs finally start calling and breeding. The zoos working with gopher frogs try to mimic the specific natural cues found in southern Mississippi to encourage the frogs into breeding mode. Zoos have been working towards perfecting the combination of temperature, moisture and timing to make the environment optimal for natural breeding to take place however, this is a very delicate balancing act requiring extensive expertise and collaboration.
In the spring of 2016, the Toronto Zoo will be balancing the delicate environment and cues gopher frogs need to breed naturally. To help the gopher frogs reproduce, thus ensuring the continuation of their species, the Toronto Zoo is exploring the possibility of administering hormones that promote their breeding behavior. It can be considered a fertility treatment, for frogs! If everything goes as planned, these will be the first Mississippi gopher frogs bred in Canada, and we will be one of only a handful of zoos to have successfully bred them with the help of these special hormones. Wish us luck!
TORONTO ZOO MAKING COMMITMENT TO RELEASE THOUSANDS MORE PUERTO RICAN CRESTED TOAD TADPOLES BACK INTO THE WILD POPULATION IN 2016
The Toronto Zoo is proud to confirm their continued commitment to the breeding of the Puerto Rican crested toad in 2016. In 2015, Toronto Zoo was extremely successful with 9,000 tadpoles being sent to Puerto Rico in June. The tadpoles were released in the Rio Encantado region of northern Puerto Rico on June 11, 2015. Plans are in motion to once again release thousands of tadpoles in Puerto Rico in 2016. The Zoo’s very own Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, will be participating in field work in Puerto Rico this coming fall, which will include the monitoring of released animals and creating additional habitat for future releases.
The Puerto Rican crested toad is listed as a Critically Endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and is found only in Puerto Rico. In collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), tadpoles hatched at the Toronto Zoo are released in Puerto Rico each year for the purposes of sustaining and rebuilding the wild population.
The SSP for the Puerto Rican crested toad was developed, in part, to reintroduce the species back into the wild. The Toronto Zoo has been an active participant in the breeding program for over 30 years. We are proud to announce that, with the addition of 2015’s tadpoles, a total of 140,128 Puerto Rican crested toads have been released back into the wild from the Toronto Zoo to date.
CLICK HERE for more information on the Puerto Rican crested toad.
Want to help Dusky gopher frogs and Puerto Rican crested toads? Consider a donation to support the amazing work happening at the Amphibian Rescue Centre at Toronto Zoo!
Due to the sensitive nature of the Dusky gopher frogs and the Puerto Rican crested toads, they are held in a quarantine area of the zoo and are not on public display. The next time you are at the zoo you can read about the work happening in Toronto Zoo’s Amphibian Rescue Centre by visiting the Americas pavilion.
Funding and Support for Adopt-A-Pond Has Been Provided By:
For more information about Toronto Zoo’s conservation programs, visit:
http://www.torontozoo.com/conservation/ and http://www.torontozoo.com/FightingExtinction/