Africam Safari is a private zoo based in Puebla, Mexico. Staff leads several amphibian conservation efforts in Mexico, such as a captive breeding program for the large-crested toads. The Zoo also heads the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conservation breeding specialist group for Mexico. These activities, in addition to their financial and logistic contributions to this project, make them one of the leading amphibian conservation organizations in Latin America.
“We have seen the devastating effects of this disease wipe out large-crested toads in Mexico, Guatemalan salamanders and Monte-Verde golden toads from Costa Rica,” said Amy Camacho, head of the Latin American Amphibian Specialist Group and director of Africam Safari in Puebla, Mexico. “Eastern Panama represents us with our last chance to salvage some Latin-American amphibian biodiversity before it is too late.”
* Amy Camacho will be present at the briefing at the National Zoo on May 11.
For further information or to talk to a representative of Africam Safari, contact: Luis Carrillo, Curador de Reptiles y Anfibios; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 01-(222)-2817000 Ext. 234
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a midsize zoo based in Colorado that has been helping endangered amphibians for many years. They participate in a breeding program for Wyoming toads that are extinct in the wild due to amphibian chytrid fungus. Their leadership has been instrumental in launching this project and their enthusiastic staff assists with the volunteer program, development of education programs and the veterinary program in Panama.
“The global amphibian crisis has been a challenge laid at the feet of the zoo community and many of us have been looking to our colleagues waiting for someone else to take charge,” said Bob Chastain, director of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “The problem, however, is too big for any single organization to tackle alone and that is why we created this partnership. This project shows that everyone can make a difference and even our community zoo in the mountains of Colorado can make an impact on something as colossal as the global amphibian crisis.”
* Bob Chastain will be present at the briefing at the National Zoo on Monday, May 11.
For further information or to talk to a representative at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, contact: Sean Anglum, Public Relations and Special Events Manager; Email: email@example.com; Phone: 719-633-9925, ext. 140
Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is one of the world’s leaders in science-based, results-oriented wildlife conservation. Their tireless advocacy for the protection of endangered species is reflected in their actions as they have stepped forward to help save the last remaining amphibians that have not yet been ravaged by deadly amphibian chytrid disease. In addition to their direct participation in the project, they have pledged to use their resources and networks to help mobilize public and political support for amphibian conservation.
“Frogs and other amphibians play a critical role in nature. It is our responsibility to take the necessary steps to save these important and fascinating creatures while we still have time,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife.
* Jamie Rappaport Clark will be present at the briefing at the National Zoo on Monday, May 11.
For further information or to talk to a representative at Defenders of Wildlife, contact: Cindy Hoffmann, Vice President of Communications; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Phone: 202-772-3255
Houston Zoo has a long history of amphibian conservation in Panama and founded El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in central Panama. They rescued several species of amphibians from Western Panama that have most likely been wiped out by chytrid fungus. Their leadership and swift reaction helped draw global attention to the problem, and this project will build on their initial efforts. With help from their in-country experts and experience, the partnership will conduct rescue operations to avert the extinctions of up to 25 species of amphibians at risk in Eastern Panama. Houston Zoo continues to develop sound animal husbandry species for many of these animals that have never been held in captivity before.
“We first reacted to this problem in 2005 by rescuing frogs that started dying en mass in El Valle region of western Panama,” said Rick Barongi Director of the Houston Zoo. “We hope that we can apply some of the lessons learned from that experience and help to develop a more proactive approach for eastern Panama.”
For further information or to talk to a representative at the Houston Zoo, contact: Brian Hill, Director of Public Affairs; Email: email@example.com; Phone: 281.380.5232
Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park is coordinating and leading this partnership. In addition to the Eastern Panama rescue effort, the National Zoo is an active participant in Project Golden Frog and maintains a large population of the world’s surviving Panamanian Golden Frogs in the Reptile Discovery Center. Most notably, in the United States, the National Zoo is working to conserve Appalachian salamanders. The National Zoo will be coordinating closely with researchers at Vanderbilt University to develop a cure for the amphibian chytrid fungus (Bd) that may one day allow the reintroduction of amphibians that have gone extinct due to Bd in the wild.
“This deadly disease was only described 10 years ago by scientists working here at the National Zoo,” said Steve Monfort, acting director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park. “Now that we can see the global magnitude of this problem, it is essential that we channel our time and resources into developing a cure that will enable us to one day reintroduce these incredible creatures back into the wild.”
* Steve Monfort will be present at the briefing at the National Zoo on May 11.
* Brian Gratwicke, lead project manager of Panama Amphibian Conservation and Rescue Project and scientist at National Zoo, will be present on May 11.
For further information or to talk to a representative at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, contact: Karin Korpowski-Gallo, Senior Public Affairs Specialist; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 202-633-3082
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), headquartered in Panama, will contribute its extensive network of scientific research facilities and nearly 100 years of research experience in Panama towards making this project a success. More than 1,000 international researchers visit STRI each year. STRI staff and research associates have spearheaded the study of amphibian taxonomy, ecology, behavior and conservation in the region. They will take the lead in coordinating in-country scientific oversight.
“In Panama, two great biological hot spots meet. As this amphibian epidemic sweeps across the globe, frog and salamander populations west of the Panama Canal have been devastated. East of the Canal they’ve been spared,” said Eldredge (Biff) Bermingham, director of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. “The Center represents an enormous international commitment to put scientific research to work and to stop this disease in its tracks.”
* Biff Bermingham will be present at the briefing at the National Zoo on May 11.
For further information or to talk to a representative at STRI, contact: Beth King, Science Interpreter; Email: email@example.com; Phone: 011-507-212-8216
The Summit Municipal Park is Panama City’s only public Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens. They provide a home for the Amphibian Rescue Center, which is undergoing an expansion to house threatened amphibians from eastern Panama. In addition to housing and caring for the amphibians, Summit Park will have an excellent public amphibian conservation exhibit and outreach program reaching more than 150,000 Panamanian visitors (10% of Panama City’s population) each year.
“Scientists recognize the global loss of amphibians as one of the biggest biodiversity crises of all time, but many Panamanians are completely unaware that one of the most dramatic fronts of this global battle is advancing in our own back yards,” said Adrian Benedetti, director of Panama’s Summit Park Zoo, where the new amphibian rescue center is being constructed.
For further information or to talk to a representative at Summit Municipal Park, contact: Adrian Benedetti, Director; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 507-232-4854/50
Zoo New England provides all aspects of veterinary oversight for this project. This includes leadership in developing protocols for quarantine, biosecurity, treatment of chytridiomycosis, treatment of common ailments and nutrition that might affect the captive collection. Zoo New England will also take responsibility for training interested veterinarians from partner institutions, as well as Summit Municipal Park’s resident veterinarian, in principles of amphibian rescue. With support from Zoo New England’s Conservation Fund, Dr. Eric Baitchman, ZNE Director of Veterinary Services, is also conducting disease monitoring in amphibian and reptile populations in Massachusetts.
“Panama is a biodiversity hotspot and this is a very acute catastrophe in the making. If we didn’t take action now, it would be too late,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “If we want to fully combat this crisis we need to help the Panamanian institutions build the facilities and develop the expertise they need, in particular in the area of veterinary care. Through our commitment, we plan to play a valuable role in the care and, ultimately, the survival of these incredible amphibian species.”
For further information or to talk to a representative at Zoo New England, contact: Brooke Wardrop, ZNE Director of Communications; email@example.com; Phone 617-989-2030.