Panamanian golden frog
At the Detroit Zoo
The beautiful and once locally revered golden frog of Panama may be extinct in the wild as a result of deforestation, capture by people for the pet trade, and amphibian chytrid fungus. The growing human population in Panama exerts greater pressure on wild ecosystems as areas are cleared for cattle farming and as the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides in agriculture increases. The chytrid fungus infection that is spreading through Central America (and other parts of the world) is having a devastating effect on these and many other amphibian species. The Detroit Zoo is a part of the captive breeding program that may be the only hope for golden frogs’ survival. The “assurance population” that zoos maintain may someday be able to return golden frogs to the wild in Panama. They can be seen at the award-winning National Amphibian Conservation Center – a leader in amphibian conservation and research – which houses a spectacular diversity of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. When it opened, The Wall Street Journal dubbed it “Disneyland for toads”. If you look closely, it might appear that these frogs are "waving" to each other. This is a behavior they developed to communicate with each other since they live near fast moving streams and audible calls may not be useful. They also change colors while developing, starting off as blackish-grey tadpoles with yellowish spots. When they emerge on land they become a stunning green with black markings and then switch into the well-known golden color.
The Panamanian golden frog is slender with long limbs. Some have black splotches over their bright yellow skin.
Scientific name: Atelopus zeteki
Continent: Central America
Habitat: Rainforest and forest streams
Size: Males can range from 1.5 - 2 inches long, females 1.7 - 2.5 inches long
Weight: Males 0.1 - 0.4 ounces, females 0.1 - 0.5 ounces
Diet: Insects and other invertebrates
Reproduction: Mating occurs during the rainy season from November to December. Females will return to streams in the forest to deposit the eggs.
Lifespan: 12 years
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
The Panamanian golden frog produces a nerve toxin that hurts its predators when attacked. The frog is considered good luck in Panama and is that country's national animal.