Prague Zoo saving endangered Peruvian frog

The critically endangered frog is found in only one lake in the world

A group of 70 Titicaca water frogs arrived at Prague Zoo on March 1. These critically endangered frogs live only in Lake Titicaca, on the border of Peru and Bolivia.

Prague Zoo is now partnered with several North American and European zoos in a program to help their survival through human care by creating “insurance populations.”

These isolated outside populations will be protected from a disease that could threaten the wild group.

Aside from disease, the frogs in the wild are threatened by growing pollution, capture for human consumption, and predators like trout, which have been artificially introduced to the lake.

The first frogs were brought from Peru to the Denver Zoo, which called for cooperation with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

“Prague Zoo immediately signed up for the program to create an insurance population of the Titicaca water frog. It is also about passing on information about the problems of one of the important global ecosystems. In the long run, these frogs will not be able to be saved if the lake fails to survive,” Petr Velenský, Prague Zoo’s curator of the reptiles and amphibians,” said.

Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek said the Titicaca water frog is remarkable at first glance. “It never leaves the aquatic environment and almost exclusively breathes through its skin. Due to the low-oxygen content in the high-altitude Lake Titicaca, however, it has to use its largest surface, skin, and therefore it has very noticeable folds on its sides, body, back and legs. Our visitors will be able to see this during the spring when we open a special Lake Titicaca exhibition,” he added.

The frogs will gradually appear in about a dozen European institutions. One in Wrocław and two in Vienna will receive some in the coming days from Prague Zoo, which will keep a total of 20 frogs.

Prague Zoo is active in saving several species and has had a long-running project to reintroduce Przewalski's horses to a restricted area in Mongolia.

In other news from the zoo, one of the two newborn giraffes has a name. Nela was born Jan. 25. She was originally called Modelka, since she loves to pose for the camera, but that was an unofficial name that didn’t follow the zoo’s naming rules.

Her still unnamed half-brother was born Feb. 13. The male giraffe Johan is the father to both. The babies stay close to their respective mothers, with Nela following Faraa around and the male baby sticking by Eliška.

The zoo this year will be doing more to support endangered species. From every entry fee, Kč 3 will go to projects, as opposed to the previous Kč 2.

Prague Zoo in 2018 saw some 1.4 million visitors, the third-highest level ever. Still, this was an unexpected success due to the high summer temperatures and the absence of the Stromovka footbridge, which collapsed at the end of 2017.

The zoo was once again rated fifth-best in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor, based on user reviews. It had been ranked as high as fourth in 2015.

The zoo was also successful in breeding last year with 1,340 babies from 219 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Prague Zoo currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened. The zoo opened on Sept. 28, 1931.

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