It's a tricky thing to get rare Panamanian frogs to breed in captivity, but scientists at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project have pulled it off. They succeeded in breeding not one but two species of endangered frogs: the La Loma tree frog and the Limosa harlequin frog. The conservation team was the first to attempt to breed either of these species in captivity. To succeed, they had to rely on careful observation skills, intuition, advise from animal husbandry experts and a dash of guesswork. But their efforts paid off and both species produced little ones.
The research team—supported by nine conservation organizations including the Smithsonian's National Zoo—currently oversees 28 adult and four tadpole La Loma tree frogs at the Summit Municipal Park on the outskirts of Panama City, Panama. The facility also houses the endangered Limosa harlequin frog. Ultimately, the conservation team hopes to return the frogs they breed to the wild. But for now, the focus is on repeating their initial captive breeding successes. Wild populations of frogs in Panama, and around the world, face numerous, complex threats including habitat destruction, climate change, pollution and chytridiomycosis. Releasing the captive-bred young frogs into the wild is simply too risky right now.
Photo © Brian Gratwicke / Smithsonian's National Zoo. An adult La Loma tree frog.
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