Although the Year of the Frog has come and gone, the number of amphibian species is still declining. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and other participants in the global zoological community are making major conservation efforts to address the amphibian extinction crisis.
The amphibians are a group of about 5,000 species of vertebrate animals including salamanders, frogs and toads and caecilians (amphibians that look like worms). Amphibians are cold-blooded (their body temperature is controlled by their environment). They have specialized, usually smooth, moist skin that allows them to actually breathe through their skin. Some amphibians have very small lungs or no lungs at all as is the case with a small group of lungless salamanders. Usually amphibians go through a metamorphosis (change) as they grow up. In fact, the word amphibian means, almost literally, double life since the typical amphibian spends at least a portion of its life (usually early life) in water. An example of amphibian metamorphosis is a frog life cycle – egg, tadpole then adult frog.
Today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has found that almost one-third of amphibians world-wide are threatened with extinction and fears that 165 species may already be extinct. North America is not exempt from this amphibian crisis, with the wild extinction of the Wyoming toad. In areas of the Caribbean, 80-90% of the amphibians are considered threatened. Documenting these statistics was a first step; now is the time to take action.
Generally we think of habitat loss and degradation, pollution, invasive species, or even climate change as major causes of animal endangerments, but in the case of amphibians we now know that in addition to the above mentioned problems, a rapidly dispersing infectious fungus called Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is leading to many amphibian declines or extinctions.
We need amphibians! From a purely selfish point of view, humans have studied amphibians and from them isolated antibiotic and anti-tumor properties, analgesics, anti-inflammatory compounds, and natural adhesives and volatiles. If we are to save these incredible creatures, it will take an international effort incorporating many conservation organizations and YOU. So learn what you can about the amphibian crisis and support the critical work needed to prevent amphibian extinctions. In fact, you can be a friend to frogs if you create amphibian-friendly environments with clean water and hiding places, don’t pollute (amphibians absorb chemicals through their skin), conserve water, be a responsible pet owner by discouraging pets from pestering wildlife and educate yourself and family about amphibians. YOU, too, can be an amphibian champion!
Help us turn your cell phones, cell phone batteries and chargers into much needed funds for rhino conservation and at the same time keep toxins found in these phones from ending up in our landfills and poisoning our environment.
Collection boxes are located at the zoo's front entry and Tyler Recycling Center. All proceeds collected from cell phone recycling at Caldwell Zoo will be donated directly to the International Rhino Foundation.