Taronga Zoo is hopping into Amphibian Ark’s Leap Day 2012 event – entitled Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012 – with six active conservation programs for endangered Australian frogs.
This year’s Leap Day, taking place on February 29th, will spotlight programs like Taronga’s which have achieved great success in amphibian conservation.
The Zoo is operating conservation programs for six endangered and vulnerable Australian frog species, including the Booroolong Frog, the Alpine Tree Frog, the Yellow-Spotted Bell Frog, the Northern Corroboree Frog, the Southern Corroboree Frog and the iconic Green and Golden Bell Frog
In January Taronga released over 6000 Zoo-bred Green and Golden Bell Frog tadpoles at Woonona.
Reptile Supervisor, Michael McFadden said: “The Zoo has now bred 26 000 of these frogs and tadpoles for reintroduction to the wild since 1994. More tadpoles are scheduled to be bred for release later in the year, with opportunities for schools to get involved in an in-situ program to bolster the conservation effort for the frog which has disappeared from most of its former habitat.”
“A breeding program for the Yellow-spotted Bell Frog is also under way. Thought extinct for 30 years, the species was rediscovered in the Southern Tablelands just two years ago. We have small insurance population at the zoo which we hope will breed in the future.”
Taronga is also conducting vital research into the threatened Alpine Tree Frog, which has been severely depleted by the chytrid fungus. Keepers are rearing tadpoles from both chytrid-exposed and chytrid-free environments to determine whether decades of exposure will have any effect on the species’ resistance to the deadly fungus after the frogs are released in spring later this year.
Taronga will host video conference sessions with schools on February 29th for Leap Day 2012. Entitled “Clean Up for Frogs”, to teach schools participating in Clean Up Australia Day about how to help endangered frogs.
The video conferences will introduce endangered Australian frog species and students will learn from Taronga’s Keepers about breeding and release programs, with live demonstrations on building a frog habitat. Students can ask Zoo Educators about other ways to help frogs.
The Zoo has also supported “Project Booroolong”, with students in Tumbarumba. Taronga boosted dwindling populations near Tumbarumba in 2008 by releasing 600 Zoo-bred Booroolong Frogs. Project Booroolong involves students designing and showcasing their own community campaigns and projects about the frogs’ conservation.
An abundance of frogs indicates a healthy ecosystem, and at a time when nearly one third of all known Australian frog species are in varying stages of decline, conservation efforts are more crucial than ever.