Preventing Disease

Mountain Yellow-legged Frog Hopping for Survival

In the Wild

Representatives from California Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are working with San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the San Diego Zoo Herpetology Department to develop a captive breeding and translocation plan for the critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frog.

In April 2005, representatives from California Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) met with staff from the San Diego Zoo’s Herpetological Department and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

 


The goal was to develop a captive breeding and translocation plan for the only remaining frogs known from the San Bernardino Mountains, as part of an integrated program of captive propagation, headstarting, and release that will ensure the long-term viability of the species in the wild.

 

In August 2006, 75 tadpoles were emergency salvaged from a drying stream bed and transferred to the care of San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. All of the tadpoles will remain at the institute to establish a captive breeding program once they reach reproductive age.


To reduce the risks associated with keeping all of the animals at one facility, other zoos have volunteered to establish breeding groups of these frogs as well, once the youngsters all reach maturity. After successful breeding has taken place in captivity and suitable habitat is available in the wild, froglets produced at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and in other zoos will be released back into the wild.

 

As of early 2009, the colony of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the Applied Animal Ecology Lab at the Institute laid a group of approximately 100 eggs. Although only 16 eggs proved fertile, and ultimately only three tadpoles developed, this marks the first successful breeding in captivity and is an important milestone in the recovery of this critically endangered species.

 

All tadpoles successfully reproduced this year will be released into Hall Canyon in the San Jacinto Mountain range at sites where they once occurred historically, as part of an experimental reintroduction effort between San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and California Department of Fish and Game.

 

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