ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoo's Amphibiville has a "newt" leader. Gabriel P. J. Graydon, 11, of Southfield, Mich., was sworn in as Mayor of Amphibiville on Tuesday for a two-year term. Amphibiville is a 2-acre wetland village that is home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Gabriel ran for office because of his love for amphibians and an understanding of the benefits of their existence. "Amphibians provide medicine for fighting certain diseases, and their existence gives us information on the health of our environment," he said. The newly elected mayor has a passion for the species and added, "I think it is time to put that passion to work."

In honor of Gabriel's victory, a plaque bearing his name and photo will be displayed in the National Amphibian Conservation Center throughout his term. He also receives a certificate acknowledging his position as mayor, a plush frog and a one-year family membership to the Detroit Zoo.

The Zoo invited candidates ages 7-12 who live in Michigan to enter the race for Mayor of Amphibiville by submitting a 100-word essay describing their qualifications for the position. A roster of 57 candidates was trimmed to a short list of finalists and voted on by a panel of Zoo staffers.

Amphibiville's outgoing mayor is Claire Kozal, 10, of Whitmore Lake, Mich.

Amphibiville opened in 2000 featuring the award-winning National Amphibian Conservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility that boasts a spectacular diversity of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. The Wall Street Journal dubbed the attraction "Disneyland for toads".