Since 1995, the Detroit Zoo has been working, through a cooperative breeding programme, to preserve and grow populations of the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur). Recently the zoo sent over 11,000 tadpoles to Puerto Rico to help increase the toad population in the wild:
Detroit Zoo officials announced on Tuesday that they are sending 11,226 tadpoles to Puerto Rico as part of a program aimed at protecting the natural population of a local toad species. The Puerto Rican crested toad is critically endangered, the zoo said in a news release, and the tadpoles will head to the El Tallonal reserve as part of a federal program.
The tadpoles will be joining the 52,000 already sent by the Detroit Zoo in the last decade to Puerto Rico. Just 15 will be kept in Michigan to continue breeding.
“With nearly half of the world’s known 7,878 amphibian species threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, infectious diseases and other factors, bolstering the population of these toads in their natural environment is extremely gratifying and a real win for conservation,” said Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center.
Amphibian staff from Detroit Zoological Society took 12 hours to count all of the tadpoles before they were packed into heavy duty fish shipping bags filled with oxygen and put into styrofoam-protected shipping containers. It only took around 24 hours before the tadpoles were once again free in their new Puerto Rican pond home.
“As the tadpoles develop and grow, they will add to the wild population and, one day, hopefully, produce many more thousands of tadpoles,” explained Marcec.
According to the zoo, the breeding program “has shown to successfully boost the wild population.” The tadpoles will be monitored to make sure they are breeding and surviving.