The toads were thought to have gone extinct in the 1920s.
The Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) is a critically endangered species and four zoos in the United States are taking an active role in helping to get this amphibian back on the road to recovery in its natural habitat.
The Oakland Zoo, in conjunction with the Buffalo Zoo and Queens Zoo in New York, and the Omaha Zoo in Nebraska have launched a captive breeding program which will hopefully lead to successful releases of the toads into the El Convento Natural Reserve in Puerto Rico.
“We are so honored to be a part of this program,” Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo said in a statement. “Being able to contribute to the conservation of a species is what zoos are all about.
The program has been incredibly detailed with the selection of the best breeding toads, housing them and the eggs in temperature controlled environments, choosing the best eggs for fertilization, using a rain chamber, and administering antifungal treatments and hormone injections to ensure success.
The zoos have been raising the tadpoles for the last 8 weeks and are scheduled to put them on a plane to Puerto Rico October 22, where they will be released into the reserve.
The Puerto Rican crested toad is critically endangered in Puerto Rico. The population of the toads went virtually extinct in the 1920s with the introduction of the cane toad (Rhinella marina), which was brought to the island in a misguided effort to fight the cane beetle. They were thought to have gone extinct in the 1980s but were recently rediscovered.
John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata