The 2014 Golden Frog Festival: Saving a National Treasure

HIGHLIGHTS

Participants: 2000

Volunteers: 80

School Groups: 13 school groups/ 300 students

Teacher  Workshops: 3/ 70 participants

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

Radio/TV Spots: 10

News Articles: 7

Media Websites: 3

In August the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and partners celebrated its fourth annual Golden Frog Festival. The festival, consisting of various events held throughout Panama, calls local and global attention to the ecological and cultural value of the Panamanian golden frog and global amphibiandeclines. A major highlight of the festival was the opening of Fabulous Frogs of Panama, a new exhibit at Punta Culebra Nature Center featuring some of the world’s most beautiful, and endangered, frog species.

The festival kicked off on August 4 with a series of teacher workshops in El Valle de Anton led by Smithsonian Education Specialist Lidia Valencia and Peace Corps Response Volunteer Hannah Arney. Seventy teachers attended three workshop to learn about the new curriculum “Fabulous Frogs of Panama, which provides educational activities for use in teaching their students about amphibian biodiversity and conservation.

 

"Congratulations on this workshop that offered us greater knowledge of nature and science. The workshop was  practical and easy to apply to any grade level." Quote from a teacher who participated in the workshop

“Congratulations on this workshop that offered us greater knowledge of nature and science. The workshop was practical and easy to apply to any grade level.” ~ workshop participant

 

PARC scientists Jorge Guerrel and Rigoberto Diaz introduced the festival on the Panamanian national lottery highlighting the importance of the golden frog and encouraging Panamanians to help conserve amphibians. Later that evening, the first Science in the City public talk was held at the Rana Dorada Pub. The event, held at one of our main sponsor’s venues, featured PARC scientist Jorge Guerrel and indigenous artisian Lanky Cheucarama. The pub talk was a vibrant mix of indigenous culture, conservation, education, and superb food & drinks!

 

Punta Culebra Nature Center held its soft opening of the new exhibit, “Fabulous Frogs of Panama.”  Sharon Ryan, public programs director at STRI, Matthew Larsen, STRI director, and Sylvia Cesaratto, the Canadian Ambassador for Panama, spoke about the importance of amphibians as national, cultural and biological treasures before inviting participants to visit the new exhibit.

The second Science in the City talk was held in the historic district of Casco Antiguo at the American Trade Hotel. Sharon Ryan, STRI’s director of public programs, and Brian Gratwicke, lead conservation biologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, talked about the PARC ‘s amphibian research, rescue and education programs.

 La Tribu finalized their performance by inviting a group of local school children to make an oath to live in harmony with the amphibians.

Performance by La Tribu

Throughout the day many people also contributed to a collective mural with the art & design studio La Tienda De Remedios

 The weekend was jam-packed with events and activities for families and frog enthusiasts. On Saturday, August 16, El Valle de Anton, the community where the PARC project began, held a family day to promote golden frog conservation. Local businesses and community groups supported the events – which included a performance by acrobatic group La Tribu, and a variety of fund and educational activities.  An estimated 500 people, mostly children, attended the event.

On Sunday August 17th, the Punta Culebra Nature Center hosted a frog themed family day to celebrate the launch of their new exhibit. The day’s events included face painting, informational presentations by STRI scientists, and frog themed games. The Rana Dorada food truck also came out to sell their delicious hamburgers and tacos.  La Tribu reprised their presentation from El Valle, and taught visitors about the importance of taking care of frogs and their habitat.

 

 

The final event of the 2014 Golden Frog Festival was a 5K/15K walk/race held in El Valle de Anton. This was the first trail walk/run race in Panama focused on raising awareness about wildlife conservation. Participants went through trails surrounding the beautiful Hotel Campestre while spectators, families, and children all watched in support.

 

Golden frog saving a life at the race in El Valle

Golden frog saving a life at the race in El Valle

Special thanks to our sponsors:

towerbank-logo-glow ATH logo la_rana_dorada_logo2

And our volunteers and collaborators

 

Post by Dara Wilson, Media and Outreach Volunteer, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

New education tab launched!

fabulosas ranas cover

Lots of exciting things are happening with amphibian education here in Panama! The brand new exhibit “Fabulous Frogs of Panama” is open at Punta Culebra Nature Center on the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama. In conjunction with this exhibit the Punta Culebra staff and I have designed a whole new curriculum of activities to do with visiting school groups.  The curriculum is a product of collaboration by Smithsonian educators, PARC scientists, and myself. Thanks to Catherine de Rivera and the rest of her wonderful group from Portland State University we received training on inquiry-based learning techniques, and we are incorporating these methods in our brand new amphibian curriculum. It includes activities such as a dichotomous key to help students learn to identify amphibians, strategies that amphibians use to avoid predation, the frog life cycle, and the effects of chytrid fungus on amphibian skin. We have published a version of this curriculum right here on amphibianrescue.org, under the brand new education tab.  Coming soon we will also include on the education tab a virtual tour of the exhibit, videos, and other bilingual materials to be utilized by educators.  So stay tuned for exciting updates to this section of the website!

By Hannah Arney, Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Science and Biodiversity Curriculum Specialist, Punta Culebra Nature Center

Panamanian Golden Frog celebrations 2014

The 2014 Panamanian Golden Frog celebrations will be held in Panama City and El Valle de Anton. The festival, now in its fourth year, celebrates the iconic Panamanian Golden frog while highlighting the amphibian’s unique, cultural role in Panama’s history. Communities across the country will engage in activities and events in hopes of preserving Panama’s national treasure.

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The festival, scheduled to be held August 9-17, 2014, kicks off with a series of instructor workshops for five schools in El Valle de Antón. Teachers will introduce a new amphibian curriculum and Clubes de Ranas (Frog Clubs) will be launched in the schools. Shortly afterwards, the Punta Culebra Nature Center will feature new educational activities promoting frog conservation in 24 school groups, that’s over 600 students!

Adults have no need to despair; schoolchildren will not be the only ones having fun during the festival. There are several events planned for adults and professionals, including talks with STRI scientists, a performance by the theatrical group “Tribu,” and a demonstration by a very talented indigenous artisan who specializes in frog sculpturing.

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Some events to look forward to include the Ciencia en la Ciudad (Science in the City) talks held by two of the proud sponsors for the festival. One talk will be held in the historic district of Casco Viejo at the American Trade Hotel and another talk will be at the Rana Dorada Restaurant.

10466983_10154412450515402_4177462776396443381_oPerhaps the most exciting event will be the launch of a new amphibian exhibit and education program at the Punta Culebra Nature Center! STRI is very pleased to coincide this year’s festival with the launch of the new exhibit, “The Fabulous Frogs of Panama.” The amphibian exhibit features several species of frogs and toads found in Panama. Ribbon cutting ceremonies are scheduled on August 14, 2014 the National Golden Frog holiday.

Finally, for the runners out there on August 24th we have a 5K / 15 K trail run in El Valle de Anton.

10393545_711556335581382_2018232539730959374_nFestival coordinators expect the festival to attract over 8000 participants this year. So make sure you are there to experience the events for Panama’s national cultural and biological treasure!

Keep up to date with our event page on facebook

Written by Dara Wilson

The Move to Gamboa

November was the culmination of a year of incredibly hard work for us in Panama. We finally moved into our beautiful our beautiful new frog conservation facility in Gamboa. Maersk Line generously donated 7 shipping containers that that once ferried ice cream and frozen vegetables around the world, but they now house a most precious collection of endangered Panamanian frogs. The new Gamboa ARC (Amphibian Rescue Center) is an incredible leap forward enabling us to more effectively tackle the amphibian conservation crisis in Panama.

We are incredibly grateful to the Summit Municipal Park, who have been our generous hosts for the first 4 years of our project, and to our project partners Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Houston Zoo, Zoo New England, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. We have relied intensively on each other for help over the last 4 years and it has truly been a team effort! Generous grants from USAID and Minera Panama were the primary source of funds used for the construction of phase I and thanks to them, we now have a world class amphibian conservation facility. We have essential back-up systems such as an emergency generator power, and backup air-conditioning so that frogs can be kept in simulated tropical montane forest environments, even in the event of a power failure. We are now getting ready to break ground on phase II, a new NSF-funded amphibian research lab, quarantine and office building that will be the hub of our new research facility for the conservation of endangered Panamanian amphibians.  

High Jumper

How's that for a view? The Agile Frog Rana dalmatina, (c) Nicola Destefano

How’s that for a view? The Agile Frog Rana dalmatina, (c) Nicola Destefano

If you want to see the agile frog live up to its name, just try catch one! This wily creature can jump for distance (2m) and height (1m).   Found throughout most of Europe, this species can be abundant in forest glades in deciduous forests where it is found. It is listed as least concern by IUCN, but evidently it’s acrobatic skills are no match for cars and it has been declining at some sites due to road-kill, conversion of forest habitats to agriculture and eutrophication.  The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has been running a conservation project on this species which declined precipitously on the Island of Jersey in the 1980’s.

Photo courtesy Nicola Destefano, submitted via the cute frog of the week Flickr group.

Red-Hot

Aptly named!!

Red-headed Poison Frog Ranitomeya fantastica Photo Credit: A. Stuckert via cute frog of the week flickr pool.

The red-headed poison frog is known for its most unique feature, its fire-orange head and throat, from which it received its name. Below the orange, it typically sports a white dorsum band followed by unique black and grey patterning. The red-headed poison frog is endemic to Peru and is restricted to a small land distribution of the San Martin and Loreto regions, making it extremely vulnerable to habitat loss. It is a small, highly active and dangerous frog. If threatened, it has the ability to secrete poisonous toxins from its skin. But despite their danger to humans, the red-headed poison frog population is decreasing because of their high demand in the pet trade. These threats to the species have led to the conservation status ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutefrogoftheweek

Are you talkin’ to me?

White-spotted cochran frog (Sachatamia albomaculata)

White-spotted cochran frog (Sachatamia albomaculata)

Cute Frog of the Week: March 11, 2013

The white-spotted cochran frog is a nocturnal frog commonly found in humid lowlands and pre-montane slopes. It is native to a wide distribution of land, from the Caribbean slopes (Honduras to Costa Rica), to the Pacific slopes (Costa Rica to Colombia), and is likely to make nests on leaves above water. A brightly colored frog, the Cochran frog is bluish green with yellow to silver spots covering the body. Even its bones are green, which can be seen when viewed from the dorsal side, thanks to their translucent skin. Because of their wide distribution and large population, the white-spotted Cochran frog is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN.

Photo by Jorge Brito via Arkive.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

Send us your own cute frogs by uploading your photos here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutefrogoftheweek/

Teachers: Don’t let ‘em go!

American toad tadpoles

Learning about the process of turning from a tadpole to a frog is an important lesson for students. Teachers should understand how to do it safely. (Photo by Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute)

The seemingly harmless act of collecting tadpoles from a pond for nature study and re-releasing them after metamorphosis could actually contribute to the spread of a fatal frog disease, amphibian chytrid fungus. We want to be sure that schools, parents and students are aware of the risks to local amphibians and do NOT spread this fungus by moving or releasing frogs to the wild.

NEVER release a frog or any other amphibian into the local environment even if it came from there in the first place!

The study of amphibian metamorphosis is an integral part of nearly every K-8 curriculum. At this time of year some schools bring tadpoles into the classroom to watch metamorphosis in action.

Frog eggs and tadpoles, commercially available online from science supply companies, can be carriers of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd or chytrid for short).  This disease spreads easily and is rapidly fatal to many native amphibians. Unfortunately, many of these companies advise customers to simply release the frogs to the wild. This is not only illegal in some states, but dangerous.

To prevent the spread of chytridiomycosis, consider studying tadpoles in a pond without bringing them back to the classroom. If you are collecting or purchasing tadpoles or eggs, make absolutely sure that: 1) it is legal – permits are required in some states; 2) the tadpoles are kept by themselves and never mixed with any other tadpoles or frogs or water that has been with other animals; 3) you are prepared to care for the frogs for the rest of their lives or can find appropriate captive homes. So, only raise as many as you can re-home responsibly or care for yourself. Some companies, (e.g. Grow-a-Frog) will welcome your frog back and provide shipping bags. If you have no other options please call your local zoo, state wildlife department or nature center.

If planning for care of native frogs in the classroom post-metamorphosis, please take into consideration that in nearly all cases you will need to provide a steady diet of live insects as most native frogs only eat live food. Most native tadpoles have relatively easy care requirements, but most native frogs have very demanding care requirements. You need to consider whether you are committed to providing the special requirements and steady diet of live, moving insects for the frog’s entire lifespan. If so, this can be a wonderful thing for students to participate in.

The release of any animal, captive, non-native or native, into your local ecosystem is a serious cause for alarm.  Now more than ever, it is imperative to inform your students about the global amphibian extinction crisis and risks of releasing any animal and especially any amphibian into your local ecosystem. Pure and simple: Don’t let ‘em go !

Survival of amphibians and the well-being of our environment depends upon what your students learn now. You can and will make a difference for future generations!

To help educate students about the immediate global concern for amphibian extinctions please see this link for curriculum materials.

–Della Garelle, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo