DETROIT — The Detroit Zoological Society hopped at the chance to save the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toads.
More than 11,000 of the species’ tadpoles will be released in the El Tallonal biological reserve, according to a news release.
The tadpoles left Detroit on June 6 for Puerto Rico to join more than 52,000 Detroit Zoo-born tadpoles released in Puerto Rico in the past decade.
Nearly half of the world’s known 7,878 amphibian species are threatened with extinction because of habitat loss, climate change, pollution and infectious diseases. Therefore, “bolstering the population of these toads in their natural environment is extremely gratifying and a real win for conservation,” said Dr. Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center, said in a written statement.
The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm which ripped through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 doing severe damage to the infrastructure and the environment.
Heavy-duty fish shipping bags filled with oxygen were used to transport the tadpoles safely. On June 7, the tadpoles were released in a pond located in a well-protected forest in Puerto Rico.
“As the tadpoles develop and grow, they will add to the wild population and, one day, hopefully, produce many more thousands of tadpoles,” Marcec said.
Fifteen of the tadpoles remain at the Detroit Zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center in Royal Oak for future breeding, according to the press release.
The Puerto-Rican crested toad has greenish-brown pebbled skin and marbled golden eyes. The toads can grow up to 3-4 inches in length. They reach maturity at around one and a half years old.
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