Earlier this month, Nashville Zoo shipped 1,072 Puerto Rican Crested Toad tadpoles back to Puerto Rico for reintroduction in the Guanica Natural Habitat. Since 2012, the Zoo has shipped over 11,000 tadpoles for reintroduction as part of a coordinated reintroduction program for this critically endangered species.
Each tadpole shipment requires months of coordination and planning. On the day of shipment, our herpetology staff transfers tadpoles into bags of water and pure oxygen and ships them to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) in Puerto Rico. They are driven directly to the release site along with tadpoles from other zoos for release. The May 7 release included over 22,000 tadpoles from Nashville Zoo, Detroit Zoo and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. After release, the tadpoles are monitored by the USFWS and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) until they metamorphosed and dispersed from the release pond.
This project is a great example of the positive effect zoos can have on animal populations in the wild. Previously thought to be extinct, The Puerto Rican Crested Toad was the first amphibian placed on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) due to rapid population declines because of the invasive marine toad introduced to Puerto Rico in the 1920s. The SSP focuses on research, habitat protection, citizen education and outreach, and a viable reintroduction program. Overall, institutions have sent over 285,000 Puerto Rican Crested Toad tadpoles bred at zoos and aquariums in North America for release.
Read more about Puerto Rican Crested Toad conservation
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