Friday, February 11, 2011

Amphibian attraction abound in Bristol Zoo’s frog ‘love shack’

Valentine’s Day is an important date in many people’s diaries, but for Bristol Zoo it marks the first anniversary of the opening of its amphibian breeding sanctuary.

Called The AmphiPod, the facility is home to two of the world’s most endangered frog species - lemur leaf frogs and golden mantella frogs. Both species are listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Lemur leaf frog
Photo: Bristol Zoo

The AmphiPod provides the perfect conditions to help these rare frogs to breed and, since it opened, the frogs have been successfully indulging in plenty of amphibian attraction! `

Over the past year, the Zoo’s golden mantella frogs have spawned more than 500 babies, over 300 of which have now found new homes at other zoos and organisations across the country.

Golden Mantella Frog
Photo: Bristol Zoo

Meanwhile, the lemur leaf frogs, which are much trickier to breed and produce smaller clutches of eggs, have produced 56 offspring.

Andy Carbin, Bristol Zoo’s senior reptile and amphibian keeper, explains: “We are really pleased with the success of our frog breeding in the AmphiPod. To have this many offspring over the past 12 months is fantastic.”

He added: “The AmphiPod is a high-tech facility which allows us to adjust the temperature, humidity and day length to create the perfect conditions to encourage the frogs to breed. It is a vital tool in helping to save high-risk frog species from the danger of extinction – which is currently a very real and near threat.”

The global extinction crisis is mainly due to man’s destruction of amphibians’ natural habitats, but in a deadly combination with pollution and climate change, they now face an even bigger and deadlier threat – a fungal disease called ‘amphibian Chytrid’ (chytridiomycosis).

This killer fungus is steadily spreading over the world. One third to one half of all amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction, with more than 160 species thought to have been lost in recent years. The threat is so serious that the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has said that the only hope for many species is to hold them in captivity until the disease can be tackled in the wild.

As a result, priority amphibian species are being taken into dedicated facilities at zoos, aquariums, and other institutions around the world for safekeeping and breeding.

Until a solution is found to stop the fungus continuing to spread in the wild, the safekeeping and captive management of threatened amphibians is the only way to ensure their long-term survival.

Bristol Zoo’s AmphiPod provides a safe, isolated environment, away from any threat of disease, as well as giving zoo keepers the opportunity to learn the techniques required for the specialist amphibian care that can be provided in the AmphiPod. In future Bristol Zoo will be able to provide a safe haven to other amphibian species in immediate danger of extinction.

For more information about Bristol Zoo Gardens visit the website at  or phone 0117 974 7300.

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Snow Leopards
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