Everyone knows the fairy tale about the princess, who kisses the frog to lift the spell and turn the frog into the handsome prince. They get married to live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, life writes other scenarios. One of them tells a story about a frog from Lake Titicaca from the border of Bolivia and Peru. The frog is considered an aphrodisiac. This one kilogram, water frog is skinned and then blended with water, flour and honey - the cocktail is supposed to boost men’s vigor.
This fad is one of the biggest threats to this amphibian, but not the only one. Over the past 15 years, its population has decreased by over 80%. The salvation could be conservation breeding in zoological gardens. The leading role in breeding these frogs plays the Denver zoo (USA). Recently 15 individuals from that zoo arrived at the zoo in Wrocław, where the sixth in Europe breeding facility for the Titicaca frogs has been established.
Frogs from Lake Titicaca (Telmatobius culeus) are yet another extremely endangered species, whose conservation breeding was entrusted to the employees of the Terrarium of the Wrocław zoo. The frogs can be found in only 12 zoological gardens in the world, where a total of 250 individuals live. There is also a breeding center in Peru, where 3,000 of them live. Due to its biology, this species is difficult to breed, what makes the success of the Denver zoo employees even greater. They willingly share their experience with colleagues from around the world. The purpose of conservation breeding in this case, is to create a sustainable population that will secure the survival of the species, may it become extinct in the natural environment.
- Increasingly our activities are related to species protection; therefore more often new inhabitants of the zoo represent the species that actually have no chance to survive in nature. The frogs from Titicaca are one them. We already know that even if they are not (literally) eaten by the pseudomedicine enthusiasts from Peru or Bolivia, they will be driven to extinction by the frogs’ legs amateurs, private collectors and the progressing degradation of the environment - says Radosław Ratajszczak, president of the Wrocław zoo.
The frogs came to Wroclaw on Tuesday, March 5th this year. They are young, 2 year-old individuals. In accordance with the procedures, they are currently in quarantine, where they will spend the next 30 days under the watchful eye of the amphibian specialists.
- Due to the fact that it is a very valuable species in terms of breeding, we’ve created special conditions for them. In an isolated room in the back facilities, there are 13 new tanks where the frogs will temporarily live - says Marek Pastuszek, head of the Terrarium of the Wroclaw zoo. - You can enter the room only in an appropriate, protective gown, and after passing through a disinfection foot mat. These precautions are a necessity, because we are still learning to breed these frogs, so we must eliminate all external threats such as viral or bacterial infections.
After the quarantine period, the frogs will remain in the back room until the new tank in the Terrarium is finished for them.