Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is Saving Amphibians.
“Leaping to the Rescue!” is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s frog rescue exhibit in the Aquatics building. In conjunction with the worldwide effort to rescue frogs and amphibians from extinction and the Zoo’s involvement with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, the Zoo exhibit is showcasing some frogs who are definitely in trouble.
The Zoo understands the importance of amphibians in the wild and with your help through gate admissions, we are doing something about their future! Zoo staff members are involved in several amphibian projects that are safeguarding local, regional and international species of frogs so that they may have a future in the wild.
FrogWatch USA – American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s flagship citizen science program that allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting the calls of local frogs and toads. For over ten years, volunteers have been trained to enter their FrogWatch USA information and ongoing analyses of these data have been used to help develop practical strategies for the conservation of these important species. Frogs and toads play an important role, serving as both prey and predator, in wetland ecosystems and are considered indicators of environmental health. Many previously abundant frog and toad populations have experienced dramatic population declines both in the United States and around the world and it’s essential that scientists understand the scope, geographic scale, and cause of these declines.
FrogWatch is active in establishing some baseline information on amphibian population distributions around the Pikes Peak region. Data gathered helps to better measure changes in frog populations in the area over time and possibly identify management or research needs for local species. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is excited to be collaborating on this project with U.S. Division of Wildlife. If you are interested, training is required which instructs volunteers in frog/toad calls, how to fill out data sheets, where to go and more. Once trained you are asked to go out and do a site visit once a month beginning in May thru the summer months. This is a unique way to get outside and be a part of something bigger.
In the Spring of 2008 the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced the launch of its new, online training programs for future chapter coordinators and volunteers of FrogWatch USA, the flagship citizen science program of AZA. The more than ten years of data collected by FrogWatch USA volunteers can be used to identify the ranges and peak breeding seasons of these important and beloved species. There are currently 18 FrogWatch USA Chapters across the country, mostly hosted by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, but the online training program will allow many new chapters to launch before the spring breeding season.
The self-paced, interactive online training courses, designed by NP Training Works, teach coordinators how to start a chapter and certify members of the public as citizen scientists for FrogWatch USA. The training courses are available at http://www.aza.org/web-based-training.aspx.
The Wyoming Toad Project – Wyoming toads are the only North American amphibians listed as extinct in the wild. Found only in the 50 sq.mi. area of the Laramie Basin in Wyoming, these toads began a rapid decline in the 1970’s due to pollution, pesticide runoff, habitat destruction and fungal disease. In 1988, a few toads were caught and a captive breeding program started to protect against extinction. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo cares for a collection of these critically endangered toads in our off-exhibit Amphibian Conservation Center. Our Wyoming Toad Recovery Program produces over 1000-3000 tadpoles each spring, with the majority being released back to the wild in Wyoming. In 2013 we started a toadlet head-start program to raise over 50 of the little ones up to one year of age to test if this increases their survival in the wild. We are currently releasing tadpoles into the Laramie Basin and participating in survey studies to determine their population in the wild.
Conserving Mantella Frogs – There are five critically endangered Mantella frogs, native only to Madagascar, that are being over-collected for the pet trade. Habitat loss and disease also threaten the survival of those still in the wild. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has obtained a collection of Mantella frogs from a trusted captive breeding source and is now captive breeding mantilla frogs to support other AZA institutions and help avoid the collection of wild mantilla frogs in the future. In 2008-2009, the Zoo’s Quarter’s for Conservation program also supported Madagasikara Voakajy, a conservation and research program in Madagascar, which aims to protect Mantella frogs and their habitat through local community education. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff also developed a flash card game to help schools in Madagascar teach about their local frogs and the challenges they face in the wild. Through our support they will further their efforts in field research and community education.