Another Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) joins the Zoo’s existing group of Panamanian golden frogs, bringing the total collection to 14. This is particularly special because the species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is nearly extinct in the wild. This bright yellow frog is endemic to Panama, meaning it is only found in Panama in certain tropical mountain forests. The most serious threat to this species is a specific pathogenic fungus that has wiped out many amphibian species worldwide. In effort to conserve and grow this species, the Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Panamanian Golden Frog Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.
This frog does not have a tympanum, or ear, so instead of using vocal sounds, it communicates by hand-waving signals, called semaphores. This amphibian eats a variety of insects and will challenge any intruder by aggressive hand waving, or even wrestling. Its bright coloring also serves as a warning to potential predators. The frog secretes a toxin from its skin, which affects predators’ nerves. Unlike a frog’s common jumping movement you might be familiar with, the Panamanian golden frog doesn’t hop, but has a distinctive, ambling walk instead.
In addition to coordinating and participating in the Panamanian Golden Frog SSP, the Zoo is also coordinating efforts in Panama for their future release to the wild. You can see this species in the Museum of Living Art (MOLA).