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Hamilton Zoo does its bit to save frogs

Hamilton Zoo does its bit to save frogs as national campaign launched

19 JUNE 2008

Hamilton Zoo is doing its bit to protect a ‘vulnerable’ species of frog, as a national public awareness and fundraising campaign is being launched this week to help address amphibian extinctions.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Conservation Union have declared 2008 Year of the Frog. The national Year of the Frog campaign was launched at the annual CMaG: ARAZPA NZ Conference in Paihia yesterday and will run until June 2009.

Worldwide almost half of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction. This global amphibian crisis is the single largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

The Year of the Frog campaign has two main objectives: raise awareness by highlighting ways people can become involved and raise funds for frog conservation. Collectively, members of the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA) seek to raise A$400,000 – representing $0.03 per paying visitor. NZ zoos and aquariums will implement a range of initiatives to meet the objectives of the campaign, with the public encouraged to assist the cause by visiting their local zoo and/or aquarium.

Hamilton Zoo is home to a group of Hochstetter’s frog – one of the only four living species of frog native to New Zealand. Historically this species were found throughout the North Island and part of the South Island, however are only now found in the northern half of the North Island. While they are the most widespread of our remaining native frog species, they are still threatened with extinction – they are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List 2006.

The Hochstetter’s Frogs at Hamilton Zoo are being used to determine captive breeding and rearing techniques for the species. There is daily monitoring of the enclosures for any problems like sick frogs, while every two months the enclosures are searched in order to get a total count and record measurements and weights. As the frogs are nocturnal, night visits to the enclosures enable the frogs to be seen active with little disturbance.

“This is just one example of the ways we contribute to wildlife conservation at Hamilton Zoo,” said Hamilton Zoo Director Stephen Standley. “If Hochstetter’s frog numbers do decline further, knowledge of these techniques could be vital to ensure their continued survival.”


Notes to the editor: 1. About New Zealand Native Frogs New Zealand once had seven native frog species but three became extinct after human habitation. The four remaining species are Archey’s, Hochstetter’s, Hamilton’s and Maud Island. Our frogs belong to an ancient and primitive group and have changed very little in millions of years. They are small, nocturnal and have superb camouflage. Unique features include: • No tadpole stage – eggs are laid and fully formed froglets eventually hatch. • They do not croak or live in water. • No external eardrums. • They have round, not slit eyes.

If people spot a native frog, they should inform the Department of Conservation (DOC) of the location, habitat, date and time that the animal was seen. Photos are useful but people should avoid touching the animal. Threats to New Zealand’s native frogs are: • Introduced mammalian predators – especially rats and stoats. • Amphibian chytrid fungus – present in Archey’s frog which has declined 80% on the Coromandel Peninsula in the last 10 years. • Habitat loss and modification. • Climate change.

Three introduced Australian species are also found around New Zealand: Green and Golden Bell, Southern Bell and Brown Tree Frogs. These frogs could spread the amphibian chytrid fungus disease and the public are encouraged not to move these frogs between ponds, lakes or wetlands. 2. About CMaG:ARAZPA NZ Inc CMaG: ARAZPA NZ is the recognised representative organisation which acts, on behalf of its members, as the primary liaison and co-ordinating body for the captive industry in New Zealand. CMaG: ARAZPA NZ is the New Zealand branch of the regional zoo and aquarium association - ARAZPA (the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria).

CMaG: ARAZPA NZ also supports it members through regular species co-ordinators' reports, workshops and an annual conference.

The New Zealand Species Management Programme (NZSMP) is the model for captive management programmes and aims to maximise the benefit of captive populations for conservation and to fulfil the requirements of the Department of Conservation's policies.

ENDS

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