23 February 2012

They have recorded the mating calls of the Green-eyed Frog – one of the world’s most endangered species – and made it available to download from our website here.

The species is so rare that the zoo in Cheshire is maintaining the world’s only population of Green-eyed Frogs, outside of its native Costa Rica.

Twenty-three of the frogs are kept in a purpose-built amphibian laboratory, which keepers call an ‘APod’ (Amphibian Pod) and is where they carry out important research and conservation breeding.

In the wild, we also works with the Monteverde Conservation League in Costa Rica to monitor the rare species, also known as the Rancho Redondo frog.

But following a prolonged dry period across the Central American country, recent surveys have only turned up very few frogs.

Ben Baker, Lead keeper of Herpetology at Chester Zoo, said:

“We’re very much hoping that when the rainy seasons come in June, that we’ll see more frogs come out of hiding. However, at this moment in time, we’re bracing ourselves for bad news. Only one small population – found in a tiny area of forest in all of Costa Rica – now exists.

“Sadly, in another area where they did once thrive, only one solitary male frog has been recorded in nearly six months.”

The species was thought to be completely “extinct” until as recently as 2002 when the population now being monitored at Chester Zoo was discovered.

“The frogs we have in the APod provide an invaluable safety net population in the event that our worst fears are realised and the species does once again vanish from the wild,” added Ben.

“We’ve been working with them daily for the last four years and have been constantly developing husbandry and reproductive techniques in that time.

“As yet they’ve only produced infertile spawn but we think we’re getting closer to generating the right environment for them to successfully breed now. With a bit of luck, that could be this year.

“We’re desperate to give this stunning frog a helping-hand with its recovery from near-extinction and ultimately, return eggs and tadpoles to suitable habitat in Costa Rica. That’s the dream.”

And Ben and the team hope to inspire an interest in the plight of the at risk amphibians by giving people the chance to hear their unusual calls every time their mobile phone rings.

“The noises that the frogs make when calling to one another are probably not quite what you’d expect. They almost sound like purring cats,” said Ben.

“Unfortunately, given their incredible rarity, 99.9% of the world’s population will never get to hear their calls for real. That’s why we wanted to give people the chance to do so with our ringtone and champion their perilous plight in the process.”

Click here to download your free Green-eyed Frog ringtone.

To support the our conservation work with amphibians in both the UK and overseas, and to find out more about how we Act for Wildlife to protect endangered species, please visit www.actforwildlife.org.uk/amphibian