Frogs around the world are in crisis, which has prompted a worldwide conservation initiative called The Amphibian Ark. The Bronx Zoo has taken responsibility for the nearly extinct Kihansi spray toad, protecting and breeding the species until it is safe to release them again into the wild. Below, an interview with Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, the curator of herpetology at the Bronx Zoo.
E Magazine: What work do you do with the Kihansi spray toads?
Dr. Pramuk: I liaison with our vets and keeper staff to ensure the best care for our toads (as well as the many other animals in our collection). We have a great staff of people who take care of them every day including feedings, censuses of the animals, etc. I attended a workshop in Tanzania a year ago with two WCS staff as well as folks from the Toledo Zoo. The workshop was intended to determine the timeline for return of the spray toads to their native Tanzania. We would like to see this happen as soon as is reasonably possible.
E Magazine: How did the Bronx Zoo get involved with the Amphibian Ark Project?
Dr. Pramuk: The Bronx Zoo, like all zoos, can be involved with the Amphibian Ark simply by becoming an amphibian champion and taking on at least one species to save from extinction. There is plenty of work to do and many species (at least 500) that need our help.
E Magazine: What are the efforts currently underway at the Bronx Zoo in conjunction with the Year of the Frog?
Dr. Pramuk: We have had special events for both Leap Day, which was an international effort to raise awareness for amphibian decline, and our Living in Green (Saint Patrick's Day weekend) that highlights green animals and focused again on amphibians. Events included keeper chats, crafts, coloring pages and other goodies. We also are opening a temporary amphibian exhibit in our historical Zoo Center building this week. In the long term, we are in the feasibility stage of planning an amphibian propagation center on the Bronx Zoo grounds to aid in our conservation projects. Right now, we have capacity for one species, the Kihansi spray toad, but hope to increase our capacity to hold at least six more species to save from extinction until a time comes when they can be reintroduced into the wild.
E Magazine: How many Kihansi Spray Toads are currently at the facility?
Dr. Pramuk: We have approximately 280, although the number fluctuates constantly. Sometimes we get a baby boom (these toads give live birth [meaning...