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Biologists At Md. Zoo Work To Save Rare Species Of Frog

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is recognized for its efforts to save the Panamanian golden frog.

Amy Yensi has more on the zoo's conservation effort.

The zoo is dedicating seven staff members to make sure these frogs have everything they need to survive. Currently, there are more than 600 frogs but they're hoping to nearly double that number.

It's breeding season at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and in a restricted room, Panamanian golden frogs are made to feel at home.

"We're the first institution to breed the frogs and we've been instrumental with a lot of the husbandry and medical side of things," said Kevin Barrett.

Barrett is the herpetology collection manager and runs Project Golden Frog.

"They're a fairly large frog and they're brightly, brightly colored," he said.

But a fungus threatens the amphibian in its native Panama. The Central American country did not have the facilities to save them.

"They actually wind up suffocating to death," Barrett said.

The zoo stepped in to save the species, adding misting systems that simulate Panama's rainy season---when the frogs lay eggs---to plants from back home. The breeding tanks are designed to set the mood for as many as 1,000 frogs.

"This is a very detailed operation. Each individual frog has its own ID card with vital information about its genetic background and medical history," Barrett said. "We know sires and dams---mothers and fathers---who breeds with who and how those genes are represented."

The project is in its 15th year and is now being recognized with a conservation award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums but the staff members say the ultimate prize is making sure these creatures revered in Panama are around for generations to come.

The plan is to release the frogs back into the wild. The zoo is already working with Panamanian officials to determine when it's safe to do that.

The Maryland Zoo at Baltimore also sends staff members down to Panama to help save frogs in their native country.

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