Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — After multiple months of waiting for final permits, Oakland Zoo has acquired the required state and federal permits to help save the Mountain Yellow-Legged frog, a highly endangered amphibian. This frog species, which once hopped throughout California’s upper elevations, has dropped significantly in numbers, more than ninety percent in the past decade, due in part to chytrid, a skin fungus that thickens the frog’s skin so they cannot breathe.
Zookeepers helped to acquire and transport a group of twenty-six adult Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs, which are separated into specific populations – Dusy Basin, Ebbetts Pass, and Marmot Lake, with each group occupying its own aquatic habitat in the zoo’s Biodiversity Center. The frogs are housed in a quarantine area that is a climate controlled environment, carefully planned and constructed to provide a suitable habitat and space for these rare amphibians and their different life stages. “The conservation work Oakland Zoo is embarking on with the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is a race against time,” said Zoological Manager, Victor Alm. “The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs along with the Southern yellow-legged frogs are some of the most endangered amphibian species in North America. Oakland Zoo is one of a handful of zoos supporting and working with the state and Federal Government agencies along with the scientific community to find ways to save this species before it is too late.” Eighteen tadpoles from Big Pines Lake area were also recently acquired. The tadpoles, which were wild caught, are part of a head-starting effort with a host of players and agencies from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to Dr. Roland Knapp of Sierra Nevada Aquatics Research Lab and Dr. Vance Vredenburg of San Francisco State University as well as several other zoos. In the near future, Oakland Zoo will be playing a role in head starting and releasing tadpoles back into their natal habitat. “This is a big step for the Zoo and it adds one more piece to the vison of the Biodiversity Center and our onsite conservation programs,” said Victor Alm, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. Zookeepers will be working hands-on with these creatures and will have a direct role in their recovery back into the wild.
Oakland Zoo will feature the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog project at a Conservation Speaker Series focused on taking action for frogs. On Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, the Zoo is honored to host guest speaker Dr. Kerry Kriger, founder of SAVE THE FROGS!. Dr. Kriger is an ecologist for the world’s leading amphibian conservation organization. He conceived and coordinates Save The Frogs Day, the world's largest day of amphibian education and conservation action, and has given presentations on amphibian conservation in Australia, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Korea, and the USA. His research has made him become a recognized expert on the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis, a topic on which he has published fifteen articles in peer-reviewed international scientific journals. Dr. Kriger's research into amphibian declines has been supported by the National Geographic Society and various philanthropic organizations throughout the world.
During Dr. Kriger’s presentation, he will introduce the audience to amphibian conservation in the 21st century. Discussion topics will include the lifespan of a frog, the thousands of frog species that live throughout the world, the difference between frogs and toads, and why frogs are disappearing worldwide. This eye-opening evening will feature photos Dr. Kriger has taken while traveling around the world. “Amphibians are indicators of the health of an eco-system,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. “As it is Oakland Zoo’s conservation mission to protect biodiversity of ecosystem, frogs are an important focus for our efforts. Our work with the Puerto Rican crested toad and groundbreaking research with the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog is critical to the health of habitats across the planet and in our own backyards. It is with great respect that we welcome Save the Frogs! to our speaker series and know Dr. Kriger will inspire our audience to care and act for the good of frogs everywhere.” The Conservation Speaker Series is open to the public and will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located in the lower entrance of the Zoo. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 – $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to SAVE THE FROGS!.
For additional information about Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series, SAVE THE FROGS!, please contact Kyla Balfour, Conservation Associate, at kbalfour(at)oaklandzoo(dot)org.
ABOUT SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAIN YELLOW-LEGGED FROGS: The tadpoles of the Mountain yellow-legged frog species are some of the largest of any frog species found in North America. These tadpoles spend two to three years in this life stage before metamorphosing into adults. This is due to the cold temperatures in their native habitat and the overwintering they go through in their high alpine lakes and streams. Adult Mountain yellow-legged frogs range from two to three inches in length. Depending on what life stage they are at depends on what role they occupy in their ecosystem. They are herbivores as tadpoles and carnivores as adults and their life stage also reflect their vulnerability to chytrid fungus. Mountain yellow-legged frogs used to be one of the most numerous vertebrates in their high alpine habitat; however, due to introduced sport fish and the emergence of chytrid fungus, they are now one of the rarest. Zookeepers at Oakland Zoo feed the adult frogs a variety of invertebrates such as mealworms, crickets, earthworm, beetles, etc. Tadpoles are fed an algae based flake diet, which is prepared in-house.
ABOUT SAVE THE FROGS!: SAVE THE FROGS! creates educational materials and provides inspiration and training to volunteers around the world to empower them to go into their communities and conduct activities that benefit amphibians. To ensure the growth of the amphibian conservation movement, SAVE THE FROGS! has awarded over $24,000 in grants to conservationists in 11 countries. SAVE THE FROGS! passed successful legislation designating the California Red-Legged Frog as California's official state amphibian and regularly meets with politicians to educate them about a variety of issues that impact frog populations. SAVE THE FROGS! began constructing wetlands at schools in October, 2014 and we welcomes assistance from the public. For more information about SAVE THE FROGS!, go to http://www.savethefrogs.com.
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO’S BIODIVERSITY CENTER AND CLASSROOM: In August of 2013, Oakland Zoo opened its new Biodiversity Center, a breeding, research, and education facility devoted to the conservation of endangered and threatened animals, plants and habitats. The Center directly supports critically endangered species both through captive breeding and by head starting. Animals bred in the Center are introduced to wild habitats. Juveniles vulnerable in the wild are brought to the center during their developmental period and returned to the wild once they are past their most vulnerable period. The California Biodiversity Classroom educates visitors on the crucial interdependence of plants, animals, people, and the environment as well as the importance of becoming responsible stewards of California’s rich natural heritage through hands-on, interactive scientific research activities including “citizen science” projects, habitat restoration, and f