- The last known 14 Loa water frogs (Telmatobius dankoi) were evacuated from a swiftly vanishing stream in northern Chile last year and taken to a zoo in the capital, Santiago.
- In late October this year, after more than a year of meticulous care, they have produced 200 tadpoles.
- Because water frogs require very specific conditions for survival, they are especially vulnerable to threats from development, drought, pollution and disease.
- The goal for the captive Loa water frogs is to breed enough healthy individuals to release them back into to the wild. But until they have a safe home to go to, they will remain in the protection of the zoo.
In 2019, the last known 14 Loa water frogs (Telmatobius dankoi) were evacuated from a swiftly vanishing stream in northern Chile. Now, after more than a year of meticulous care, they have produced 200 tadpoles.
“The zoo’s specialists not only nursed the animals back to health after they were discovered malnourished and near-death in the wild last year, but they have now succeeded in breeding a new generation of a species that has very nearly vanished,” Lina Valencia, Global Wildlife Conservation’s Andes conservation officer, said in a statement.
The frogs caught a ride in the cockpit of a commercial flight from their dwindling habitat in Chile’s driest desert to the National Zoo of Chile in Santiago. Once the frogs reached the zoo, experts there faced the challenge of recreating the water environment of their home stream and figuring out what to feed them.
“When we brought these animals to the zoo, I didn’t even know if they were going to survive the transfer from Calama on the plane to Santiago,” said Andrés Charrier, a rescue team member and herpetologist affiliated with the Chilean Herpetological Society.
Twelve of the original 14 frogs survived and are in good health today. The team noticed reproductive conditions in the frogs, such as changes in the skin of males and the weight of females, and in late October 2020, the frogs laid eggs.
“We put two couples together, and we got about 200 eggs. At the beginning, we didn’t know if the eggs were fertile or not, but we noticed right away that these…