Frog Poetry and the Washington Post

Washington Post

On Dec. 30, the Washington Post ran a front-page story about the rescue project.

The year ended on a high note for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. William Booth, a science writer for the Washington Post, joined rescue project researchers on a field expedition and his story about the rescue project came out on the front page of the Post on Dec. 30. The story inspired one reader, Tim Torkildson, to share a lovely poem about frogs and the disease that is wiping them out.

Booth also did this NPR interview about his recent trip to Panama.

If you saw the story and are interested in making a donation to the rescue project, please follow this link to the National Zoo’s website.

by Tim Torkildson

The frog is an amphibian
Who thrives most ev’rywhere,
From the dry Namibian
To just off ol’ Times Square.
The ones who have a bumpy skin,
With warts and pits and nodes,
Are the closest Phylum kin;
We simply call them toads.
The bullfrogs in the early spring
give ponds reverberation
With their raucous verbal fling,
Attempting procreation.
The have a courtship ritual
that’s called, I think, amplexus,
Which gives them fits conniptual
Between the two odd sexes.
A little boy will manage to
Corral a tadpole, yes,
And give it quite a slimy view
Right down his sister’s dress!
And did you know the urine from
a pregnant lady will
cause some frogs to lay a scum
of eggs, with no male thrill?
And so they’re useful critters,
As the French will tell you so;
Their legs taste good in fritters,
Are mistaken for turbot.
And what of cane toads, mind you,
Where, if you lick the skin,
The psychedelics blind you
To sorrow, grief and sin?
But frogs, those little gargoyles,
Which are funny in cartoons,
Are engaged in lethal broils
That leaves their lives in ruins.
A fungus known as “Bd” kills
The frogs down in Belize,
Then jumps the valleys and the hills
So others it may seize.
The Costa Rica Golden Toad
Is now extinct, alack.
More are headed down that road,
Since habitat is slack.
Toxins give some frogs three legs,
Which doesn’t help them jump.
Instead they are like clumsy kegs
Who in the water flump.
Scientists preserve some frogs
In habitats in labs.
Dressed in their starched, stiff white togs
They keep meticulous tabs.
To save the frogs, oh please donate
A dollar or a yuan,
So the polliwog birth rate
Will someday be a shoo-in!

Happy Holidays!

We are grateful for all of the support that we have received this year and look forward to another terrific year of saving some of Mother Nature’s most valuable gifts.

If you’re feeling in the holiday spirit, please consider giving frogs a little boost by:

  • Donating money to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. Even the smallest donation can help us provide a safe haven for frogs.
  • Text FROG to 20222 to give $5 to the project (message and data rates apply).
  • Help us spread the word, whether on Facebook, Twitter or at your holiday dinner party.
  • Plan a trip to Panama to volunteer for the project. You’ll play a pivotal role in saving amphibians and have the experience of a lifetime. Don’t believe us? Check out what former volunteers have had to say.

Happy holidays from the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project!

The story of the deer and the frog

The story of “The deer and the frog”

The deer and the frog

Frogs and conservation are part of many traditions and cultures.

Once upon a time, there was a deer that always made fun of small wild animals, especially frogs. “You guys are slow, weak and small,” the deer used to say and to demonstrate his strength and speed, he challenged one of the frogs to a race. The intelligent frog accepted the challenge and together the frogs planned a way to beat the deer. They agreed that each of them would wait every few meters and relieve the other and as a result, deceive the deer. The race started and the deer took the lead, but after a while the frog was ahead of him. The deer sped up and took the lead again until the frog overtook him again. Close to the finish line, the deer got tired and lost the race, not knowing that many small frogs with agile minds proved him wrong.*


If you follow this blog, you know that a group of zoos, governmental and nongovernmental organizations motivated by and concerned about the current crisis facing amphibians started this project to rescue and conserve some of the most endangered frog species in eastern Panama. It is easy to understand what motivates a scientist, a veterinarian, a zookeeper or an environmentalist to conserve a species, but we often forget that there are people whose cultures are based on the respect for nature, conservation of many species and the dissemination of this knowledge through the generations.

Hand-carved frog taguas by Lanky Cheucarama

One of the rescue project's frog keepers, Lanky Cheucarama, carves these beautiful frog tagua nuts. Can you tell which is real and which is fake?

Lanky Cheucarama is Wounaan and one of the keepers at Summit Zoo for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. The Wounaans are one of seven ethnic groups found in Panama and they occupied the eastern region of Panama (the Darien) and the Chocó region in Colombia. Its inhabitants are principally engaged in the sale of hand-made crafts. Baskets woven by women and carved wood and tagua (vegetable ivory) by men are some of the products offered to tourists who visit the Wounaans.

Lanky began tagua carving at the age of 12, taught by his father Chafil and uncle Selerino, two of the most outstanding artists in their community. Frogs are among the most common animals carved in tagua and take between three days (for the simple ones) and up to one week (for the most elaborate tagua) to carve. Lanky’s hand-carved tagua nuts are modeled after the frogs in the rescue project and available for sale here (proceeds support the rescue project).

For many indigenous communities in Central and South America, frogs have played an important role within their cultures. It is well know that some dart frog’s poison was used to hunt animals and was even used in weapons during fights with other indigenous groups. K’up’uur (frog, in wounaan language) is found in dances, songs, fables, art, medicine and other rites. This is why we know how important they are for this group.

Here at Summit Zoo, we always learn something new about Lanky’s culture and some of our team members and volunteers have been lucky to visit and meet his community and his family. It’s interesting to realize how even though we have come from different backgrounds; we all have the same interest: to protect and preserve what nature has to offer. By learning from each other and sharing our knowledge, we are able to save frogs and many other endangered species.

Purchase one of Lanky’s beautiful hand-carved tagua nuts modeled after the rescue project’s frogs here (proceeds support the rescue project).

*This is a story told to the children in Lanky’s community.

-Angie Estrada and Lanky Cheucarama, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

Meet some of the frogs we’re trying to save

These are some of the endangered frogs we have already taken into captivity in Panama. With your help we hope that we’ll be able to keep extinction at bay, but these species are far from secure. We urgently need funding to expand our rescue operations. As you consider where to make your end-of year donations, please remember that Eastern Panama is falling to chytrid fungus at a rate of 30km per year! Click here to make an online donation to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Mantellas on the Move

Black-eared Mantella froglets bred at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

An adult blue-legged Mantella. (Photo credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

A hop, skip, and a jump from Panama (well, a little farther than that), the Mantellas are fighting their own battle with potential extinction on an island off the coast of Africa. Madagascar is home to 16 species of the frogs, which are endemic to the country, but collection for pet trade and deforestation are threatening their survival.

We first told you about Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Mantella captive breeding program last fall. It was animal keeper Jeff Baughman’s goal to establish a breeding program for the frogs within the zoo community, and over the past year, he did just that. In a matter of weeks, Baughman’s first batch of 70 captive-bred blue-legged and black-eared Mantellas will be on the move to AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) zoos around the country.

People are drawn to the bright colors of the Mantella, colors that rival those of the more familiar poison dart frogs in Central and South America. However, only a handful of zoos in the U.S. have the endangered blue-legged and critically endangered black-eared species. Baughman started by bringing a collection from a trusted captive breeding source to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s off-exhibit Amphibian Conservation Center. He then created an environment similar to Madagascar’s less humid winter months, followed by increased humidity and daylight to simulate the rainy season. The females laid their eggs in March, and the end result is about 35 blue-legged and 35 black-eared Mantellas.

Chytrid has not yet spread to Madagascar, but if it does, the effect would be devastating. Because Mantella populations are so fragmented, they could easily be wiped out by the fungus. That’s why the Wildlife Conservation Society and other experts are looking at creating a facility in Madagascar, similar to the one in Panama.

What can you do to save frogs? If you’re buying them as pets, it’s important to find out where they came from. Make sure you get your frogs from a trusted captive breeding source and avoid buying frogs caught in the wild.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo guests are helping frogs, too. In 2008 – 2009, the zoo’s Quarters for Conservation program supported a conservation and research organization in helping protect Mantella frogs in Madagascar. With every visit this year, zoo guests can vote to provide funding to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

Katie Borremans, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Pocket Frogs teams up with rescue project to raise funds for frogs


Creators of this popular iPhone and iPad app, Pocket Frogs, are helping spread the word about and raise money for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.

There’s so much to love about everyone’s new favorite free iPhone and iPad app, Pocket Frogs: the adorable and colorful little frogs that players guide through various habitats; the opportunity to breed more than 10,000 frogs to produce new, rare and even more colorful frogs; and the element of social networking, giving users the option to trade frogs with friends and even give them as gifts.

And then there’s the fact that for the last week, Pocket Frogs creator NimbleBit has used this popular platform to spread the word about the global amphibian crisis and help raise funds for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project via our text FROG campaign. With their help, we’ve been able to reach a new audience full of frog lovers and we’re bringing in some of the money that we need to care for and breed endangered species of frogs outside of the virtual world. For this we are very grateful, both to NimbleBit and to Pocket Frogs players!

The goal of Pocket Frogs, which was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first two weeks after NimbleBit released it, is to breed different frogs and maintain their habitats. Die-hard players aim to complete certain challenges that revolve around breeding a number of specific frogs of various colors and patterns. But it’s not just frog lovers singing the game’s praises—within one week, Pocket Frogs rocketed to the No. 1 spot for free iPad apps and the No. 3 spot for free iPhone apps.

I can certainly see why. Although I haven’t yet progressed much beyond breeding a green folium anura with a yellow pruni anura, I’m hooked. My nursery is filled with a rainbow of frogs—I’ve also got an egg or two in there ready to hatch in the next few hours—and the dragonflies in the pond don’t stand a chance against my frogs’ smooth moves. Today I even won the “frog basics” award, reached the second level and bought a new habitat. My own primary objective as I continue playing? To breed two frogs that create Panamanian golden frog-like offspring!

So from the frog rescuers at the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project: Thanks, NimbleBit, for your part in helping us save the real frogs!

Lindsay Renick Mayer, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

It’s on: With “text FROG” we’re raising $50K for frogs

We Need You to help save frogs!

The price we pay every time a frog species goes extinct due to chytrid is beyond measure. The cost of saving frogs, however, is scant in comparison. But we need your help! That’s why we’ve launched a mobile giving campaign, providing an easy and convenient tool for you to give money to help us battle chytrid and provide the frogs a safe haven. Just pull out your cell phone and text “FROG” to 20222 to make a $5 donation to the rescue project.

Every $5 that comes in this way will go toward the project’s efforts, like our new goal of raising the $50,000 it takes to turn a shipping container into a rescue pod. These rescue pods are biosecure “arks” where we can care for frogs that would otherwise be hit hard by the wave of chytrid. Without this ark, we won’t have a safe place to keep the frogs—so help us raise the funds by spreading the word!

So what can your money help buy? Check it out:

$5: Three swab sticks used to test frogs for chytrid.
$5: A box of gloves to help ensure the cleanest and safest handling of the frogs.
$5: Pair of Crocs for keepers and visitors to change into to prevent bringing anything harmful into the biosecure rescue pods and areas where the frogs are kept.
$5: Small cricket container—caring for the frogs’ food is an important part of caring for the frogs.
$10: Four gallons of bleach, to keep the floor of the pod and quarantine rooms sterile.
$10: Large cricket container.
$10: Frog quarantine tank.
$15: Tub of yeast to feed fruit flies, which in turn are fed to the frogs.
$20: Calcium powder for frogs to keep them strong and healthy.
$20: Paper towel pack to help clean the tanks.
$30: 100 pounds of tilapia (fish food) to feed the crickets.
$30: Standard frog tank.
$150: Bottle of anti-fungal medication to treat the animals for chytrid.

Watch as our rescue pod fills up with frogs by following the progress of our $50K for Frogs campaign. And make sure to text “FROG” to 20222* to save a frog today! (You can text “FROG” to 20222 up to six times.)

MOBILE GIVING FOUNDATION*A one-time donation of $5.00 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Donor must be age 18+ and all donations must be authorized by the account holder (e.g. parents). By texting YES, the user agrees to the terms and conditions. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Message & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to short code 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help. You can also find the privacy policy here.