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September 12, 2017 > Zoos, Parks Service release frogs

Zoos, Parks Service release frogs

Submitted By Erin Harrison

Oakland Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered for a third year in efforts to save the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog from extinction in the wild.

About half of the critically-endangered frogs released were raised at Oakland Zoo, in quarantine from tadpoles, as part of a Òhead-startÓ program to help ensure their survival in the wild. In the wild, these frogs are victim to non-native predators and the deadly chytridiomycosis (chytrid) fungus, a highly-infectious, deadly disease that has caused the decline or extinction of more than 200 of the worldÕs amphibian species in recent decades. The program involves growing the tadpoles into healthy juveniles and inoculating them to boost their immune response to the fungus.

The fungal disease has been present in Asia, South America, and Africa for approximately a century, but has spread to almost every continent in recent decades, likely due to the worldwide exportation of amphibians.

Oakland Zoo raised 99 of the 215 healthy young frogs (from tadpoles) that were transported by helicopter and released into lakes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks over the last two weeks of August.

ÒOur collaboration with biologists and several government agencies has given us the opportunity to inoculate these frogs against the deadly disease that has already wiped out 90% of this species in the wild. We are honored to be able to make a real difference in the conservation of this species,Ó said Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.

The release indicates the success of the program, now in its third year and ongoing. The program looks to continue and succeed as other groups of tadpoles are salvaged and brought to Oakland Zoo for more head-starting next month.

The Mountain Yellow-Legged frog has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, since 2014.

ÒThis partnership has been critical to the recovery of the mountain yellow-legged frog,Ó said Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office Field Supervisor Jennifer Norris, Ph.D. ÒWeÕve been able to maximize the expertise of each partner to successfully recover and relocate over 400 frogs over the past couple years alone.Ó

ÒThese frog reintroductions are the result of close collaboration and effort by many partners,Ó said Danny Boiano, Aquatic Ecologist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. ÒHowever, the expertise provided by the zoos has been instrumental to the success of being able to return so many frogs to the wild.Ó

The conservation collaboration between the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and zoos is helping to save a native California species and give it the opportunity to thrive and repopulate in the wild. Seeing flourishing frogs in healthy habitats is the ultimate goal of the rescue for recovery, so future generations are able to experience and learn about these animals first-hand.

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