BALTIMORE, Oct. 6 (UPI) — A zoo in Baltimore is at the forefront of keeping an endangered Central American frog species, believed extinct in its native Panama, alive, researchers say.
The Maryland Zoo has become the United States’ largest breeder and shipper of the Panamanian golden frog, part of an effort to propagate the species in captivity in hopes their descendants can some day be returned to the wild in Panama, The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday.
The zoo recently shipped young frogs to zoos in Texas and California in a program than has seen several thousand Baltimore-bred frogs shipped off to live and breed at other institutions.
Golden frogs once were abundant in Panama, where they were a national icon and a symbol of good luck with their image appearing on the country’s lottery tickets, in hotels and gift shops.
Now they are thought to be extinct in the native Panamanian cloud forests, the victim of the deadly chytrid fungus that has affected 30 percent of the world’s amphibian species.
The frogs’ story should be a wake-up call to anyone who has listened to the tree frogs in their own neighborhood and cares about healthy ecosystems, assistant curator of amphibians Kevin Murphy says.
“If people know about the golden frogs, and know what kinds of things have happened, and think about the amphibians in their own backyard,” he says, “they might care about them and might protect them in some way.”
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