May 7, 2007 Hundreds of golden frog tadpoles hatched at Hotel Campestre in El Valle earlier this month, product of the Golden Frog Project that started in 2001. The Project aims to serve as Noah's Ark until a solution to control a fungus is found.
Principal investigator Edgardo Griffith, STRI visiting scientist from Southern Illinois University and research assistant Heidi Ross were surprised at the event “We didn't expect that the conditions for reproduction were already there.”
The new facilities of Hotel Campestre include at least one 100 gal aquarium irrigated with tap water filtered with activated charcoal to insure purity. River stones with emerging algae, tropical plants and petri dishes containing tadpole food based on algae are also contained in the aquarium, providing a simple but effective ecosystem for the new golden frogs. These frogs are the survivors of many highland species in Panama, victims to a chitrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Along with habitat loss, soils use change, and commercial overexploitation, Bd is responsible for the decimation of populations and extinction of many species of amphibians. No wild golden frogs are found in El Valle.
The new tadpoles are the offsprings of two resident couples of golden frogs of the Hotel. In normal conditions in the wild, without the fungus, maybe only 25% of the tadpoles would survive, but given the conditions provided by the project all 100% of tadpoles may reach adulthood.
The efforts to conserve the golden frog and many other species of amphibians is shared by ANAM, the Houston Zoo, the World Association for Zoos and Aquaria, World of Conservation, Zoo Atlanta, etc.
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