The frogs at the Staten Island Zoo are getting something extra special for World Frog Day this month: A total home makeover!
World Frog Day is March 20, but the zoo will celebrate the occasion with activities for kids and families to enjoy on Sunday, March 19, 11am to 2pm. A ribbon cutting of the new permanent exhibit highlights the activities at 12pm.
Other activities planned for the event include keeper chats and more frog fun. All activities, including the ribbon cutting, are free with zoo admission. ($10; $7 seniors, $6 ages 3-14, free for kids 2 and younger).
Located in the zoo’s Tropical Forest wing, the exhibit—which is often called the Frog Hut—hasn’t had an upgrade in several years. So, zoo staff decided it was time to do something about it. Last year, the zoo held a fundraiser for the project, which was completely paid for by generous donors from the community. During Giving Zoo Day, the zoo’s spin on Giving Tuesday fundraisers held annually in November, the community raised approximately $5,000 to upgrade the exhibit.
“We decided to raise money to re-do the hut, give it a nice new front piece, get some new tanks and redesign the way it’s laid out,” Jessica Hartmann, director of education at the zoo, said.
Lots of New Frogs and Features
Starting on March 19, Staten Island Zoo visitors will see a whole bunch of new froggy features at the exhibit, including larger habitats, live plantings and lots of new frogs. There’s no word yet on which new frog species will be moving in, as the zoo is keeping it a surprise until the big unveiling. (But we’re sure they’ll be very impressive!)
“There’s going to be three huge tanks that will be home to multiple species,” Sarah Martin, volunteer coordinator and special events manager at the zoo, said.
The absolutely ribbiting makeover isn’t just about looks. It includes many behind-the-scenes upgrades that the frogs will enjoy. These include upgraded misting and filtration systems, as well as a cool new unit to control the climate in their room. These features are very important for amphibians since they don’t have the ability to regulate their own body temperature.
The Staten Island Zoo: Saving Frogs in the Wild
Zoo staff is confident that the frogs will love their new creature comforts. The makeover also serves as a way to give back to frogs and other amphibians since they do so much to help the world. Acting as an indicator species, frog populations serve as a measure of the health of their habitat . So, the more frogs present, the more the ecosystem is thriving.
“Frogs are important to the ecosystem,” Hartmann said. “They’re one of the first animals to really indicate environmental pollution. They breathe through their skin, so if there are any pollutants in the water, they’ll be the first to feel that. So, if you see an issue with amphibians, you know there is a bigger issue.”
Hartmann also explained that frogs also have to deal with something called chytrid fungus. This disease in amphibians has been linked to serious amphibian population declines around the world.
While the zoo frogs will undoubtedly leap for joy when they move into their new digs, things are bleaker for their wild counterparts. At least one-third of known amphibians are considered threatened with extinction, which is the highest extinction rate of any group of animals, according to the zoo.
But zoo staff aren’t taking this amphibian crisis lightly. The zoo frogs serve as ambassador animals that raise awareness about issues facing wild frogs. The new exhibit will highlight the challenges facing frogs, as well as the conservation work zoo staff does to save the animals.
“We work in the field with frogs and do frog research,” Hartmann said. “One of our staff members does frog research in the Virgin Islands, so we wanted to highlight that as well as some of the other work that we do with amphibians.”
To learn more about frogs and World Frog Day at the zoo, visit statenislandzoo.org or follow the zoo on Instagram or Facebook.
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