AQUARIUM AIMS TO BREED ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’ TREE FROGS

Bristol Aquarium is joining an international programme to try and save a rare species of frog from extinction.

The Harbourside wildlife attraction is looking after a colony of seven Critically Endangered black eyed tree frogs.

Critically Endangered is the highest risk category assigned by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List for wild species. Critically Endangered means that a species’ numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80% within three generations.

The hope is the frogs, part of a captive population which can be traced back to a specific location in the wild, will breed.

Bristol Aquarium’s Curator, Dan de Castro, said: “These frogs are found in parts of Central America. At one time they were quite common but in recent years a combination of devastating diseases and loss of habitat have pushed them to the brink of extinction.

“The plan is for satellite breeding colonies to be set up at zoos and aquariums around the world which can, if necessary, be re-introduced into the wild to help preserve the species,” he added.

As well as captive breeding schemes there are a variety of conservation initiatives taking place on the ground, including the creation of protected areas where the frogs are safe from human interference.

“If all goes well we’re hopeful this miniature colony will begin to breed and help to build and grow the captive populations,” added Dan.

The frogs have a green body, red or pink underbelly and large, protruding black eyes which have provided them with their common name of the Popeye frog.

They are mainly found in mountainous forests and wetlands. Females lay clutches of up to 75 green-coloured eggs at a time on rocks or vegetation which overhang water.

When the eggs hatch the tadpoles fall into the water below to complete their development in to frogs.

Issued by Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews and picture opportunities please contact Tina Patel and David Waines on 0117 934 0944 or Dan de Castro on 0117 934 0943.