North Carolina Zoo Sends Puerto Rican Toad Tadpoles Back to Their Natural Habitat
ASHEBORO, NC – As part of its ever-growing commitment to conservation, the North Carolina Zoo recently shipped just over 400 Puerto Rican Crested Toad tadpoles to Puerto Rico for release into the wild. The shipment is part of an Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan program, which aims to manage the population of these amphibians in the wild and prevent their extinction.
In 1984, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad became the first amphibian to be protected under the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program. At more than 32 years, it is the longest continuous running reintroduction program for an amphibian species. To date, 19 participating institutions have sent over 350,000 tadpoles to Puerto Rico.
The toads are kept in isolation from general zoo populations to prevent the spread of disease to the wild. Although the toads have bred naturally in captivity, hormones are generally used to time all breedings to coordinate shipments and releases in Puerto Rico. Tadpoles are sent via commercial airlines to partners in Puerto Rico for reintroduction. Captive toads are individually identified and tracked in a studbook and breeding recommendations are made by the program coordinator six times per year. Typically, three to four institutions breed per release.
Once tadpoles are sent to Puerto Rico, they are acclimated in man-made ponds where they are monitored by the Puerto Rican Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until they reach maturity. Currently there are six reintroduction sites that are located in historical habitat and separated from the last remaining wild population in the southern part of the country.
For the past 30 years, wild populations of Puerto Rican Crested Toads in Guanica have fluctuated from 300 to 3,000 individuals. This species is difficult to monitor because it spends much of its time underground. The toads are generally only observed when they congregate during large rain events for breeding.
The Puerto Rican Crested Toad SSP reintroduction program functions under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Puerto Rican Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Caribbean Field Office.
The North Carolina Zoo is proud to be a global leader in the protection of wildlife and wild spaces.
About the North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo provides an experience like no other zoo anywhere. With five miles of exhibits, nearly 2,000 animals and 52,000 plants it is the largest natural habitat zoo in the world and an international leader in wildlife conservation.
Find yourself surrounded by some of Africa’s giants including elephants, rhinos, and giraffes; share the love of gorillas with Mosuba and his six-member troop; polar bears Nikita and Anana take polar plunges every day at the Rocky Coast Exhibit; or join in the fun at the mud café in the Kidzone.
Located in center of the state in Asheboro, it is convenient to visit from anywhere in North Carolina. The North Carolina Zoo welcomes nearly 750,000 guests each year. Plan your adventure at www.nczoo.org.
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