The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project was created in 2009 as a partnership between Zoo New England, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Houston Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoo, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Defenders of Wildlife to build captive populations of species at risk of extinction from the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus. Click here to learn more about the role of zoos in protecting Panama’s amphibians.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a midsize zoo based in Colorado that has been helping endangered amphibians for many years. They participate in a breeding program for Wyoming toads that are extinct in the wild due to amphibian chytrid fungus. Their leadership has been instrumental to launching this project and their enthusiastic staff assists with the volunteer program, development of education programs and the veterinary program in Panama. Their involvement is crucial to build the local capacity in Panama needed to develop long-term security for Panama’s biodiversity.
Houston Zoo has a long history of amphibian conservation in Panama and founded the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) in central Panama. They rescued several species of amphibians from Western Panama that have now probably been wiped out by Chytrid fungus. Their leadership and swift reaction helped draw global attention to the problem, and this project will build on their initial efforts. With help from their in-country experts and experience we will conduct rescue operations to avert the extinctions of up to 25 species of amphibians at risk in Eastern Panama. Houston Zoo continues to develop sound animal husbandry species for many of these animals that have never been held in captivity before.
Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park – The National Zoological Park is coordinating and leading this partnership. In addition to the Eastern Panama rescue effort, they are active participants in Project Golden Frog and house a large proportion of the world’s surviving population of Panamanian Golden Frogs in the Reptile Discovery Center, and in the US they are working to conserve Appalachian salamanders. They will be coordinating closely with researchers at James Madison and Vanderbilt Universities to try and develop a cure to the amphibian Chytrid disease that may one day allow us to reintroduce amphibians that have gone exinct due to Bd into the wild.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – STRI, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. STRI will assume the lead on coordinating in-country volunteers and provide in-country scientific oversight to this program.
Zoo New England provides all aspects of veterinary oversight for this project. This includes leadership in developing of protocols for quarantine, biosecurity, treatment of chytridiomycosis, treatment of common ailments and nutrition that might affect the captive collection. Zoo New England will also take responsibility for training interested veterinarians from partner institutions, as well as Summit Municipal Park’s resident veterinarian, in principles of amphibian medicine.