Leap Day activities

Leap Day activitiesMany of the institutions that participated in AArk’s Leaping Ahead of Extinction promotion in February held special events as part of the celebration, on or around Leap Day (February 29th). These events were well-attended by members of the public, and most agreed that it made for an interesting end enlightening addition to their visit.

Sixty institutions from twenty institutions participated in the event, with many running special activities over a week-long period around February 29th. Some of the special events are included below:

Amphibian Leap Day in Zoo Zürich – Dr. Samuel Furrer, Curator, Zoo Zürich

On February 29 Zoo Zürich took part in the International Leap Day event. Leap Day activities, Zoo Zürich. Photo: Samuel Furrer.The goal of this event, that was initiated by the Amphibian Ark, was to promote amphibians and all the conservation success stories that have been achieved so far.

In Zoo Zürich, the program included guided tours through the amphibian exhibition as well as behind the scenes tours. An information desk offered specific information on native amphibian fauna. There were feeding sessions with the keepers in the terrarium and aquarium. And for the young visitors, a fairy tail corner was open and quite frequently used. Those visitors attending the events were very interested and eager to hear about amphibian biology as well as the news on conservation activities and successes.

Leaping ahead of extinction day at the Johannesburg Zoo – Candice Segal, Marketing Assistant, Johannesburg Zoo

Leap Day activities, Johannesburg ZooOn Wednesday February 29, Johannesburg Zoo staff celebrated the 1st International Leaping Ahead of Extinction Day. As part of raising awareness for the day marketing assistant Candice Segal visited staff throughout the Zoo encouraging them to wear a frog hat to show their support. Each staff member who participated was given an origami frog gift. The Zoo’s education team was also busy and with the help of the Curator of Fish, Amphibians and Reptiles, Mr. Ian Visser, 140 school children enjoyed a talk and demonstration all about amphibian ecology and conservation.

In addition to activities during the day, an evening lecture was presented by Ian Visser about the Johannesburg Zoo’s amphibian conservation project. The talk was well received, with thirty-five guests of all ages learning about the hard word and successes of saving endangered amphibians such as Picker’s Gill Reed Frog found only in an isolated part of South Africa’s coastline. After the lecture guests were taken by the Zoo ferry to “Creature Feature”, one of the exhibits which houses amphibians such as African Bull Frogs, Painted Reed Frogs and Guttural Toads.

The day was a great success and it is hoped more events will be held in the future to raise awareness about the plight of amphibians and the good work being done in South Africa to try and save them.

Zoo Miami amphibian awareness event – Dustin Smith, Conservation and Research Biologist, Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces

After speaking with our chapter of American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), the South Florida AAZK chapter, we decided to have an amphibian awareness event on Sunday, 26 February, and we also repeated our efforts on the actual leap day, February 29. Our day included:

  • multiple zoo keeper encounters in front of various amphibian exhibits around the zoo
  • a booth set up to promote amphibian conservation and describe Zoo Miami’s efforts, as well as global efforts
  • a table selling merchandise to raise money for conservation – amphibian shirts, stuffed golden frogs, amphibian buttons, and baked goods – total proceeds raised ~$275. (Unfortunately, it’s not a lot, but we had bad weather on both days)
  • a booth with educational facts and fun activities for kids to do related to frogs, including:

– drawing and coloring frogs – hop like a frog – to show guests how far they can leap vs. how far frogs/toads can leap – live amphibians on display, along with the prey items they feed on – temporary tattoos – various educational facts about amphibians, their decline, and conservation – frog and tadpole puppets.

Although we were not able to promote the event as much as we would have liked, it went very well and we were able to educate many of our guests during the two-day event.

“Leap Here!” – Education and public awareness on the native frogs of Singapore – Yap Xinli, Conservation and Research Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Leap Here logo - Singapore ZooIn conjunction with Leap Day, the Singapore Zoo held a frog-themed event from February 25-26, for kids aged twelve and below. The event aimed to create awareness and educate children on the native frogs of Singapore and their conservation through interactive games and activities.

Kids could collect stamps on their learning passport after the completion of frog-related games at five stations. Each participant was given a goody bag and a chance to enter a lucky dip once they had collected all the stamps.

The event ran successfully with a total of 728 participants over the two days. It also provided a good opportunity for the forty-five volunteers who helped out in the event to learn more about native frogs.

Game Stations

1. “Frog, three, two, one… Can you save the frogs from extinction?” Aim: Frog species identification and conservation of frogs Description: Kids were challenged to finish the frog puzzles as fast as they can and find out what is causing frog numbers to decline.

2. “Count the Clutch!” and “Long Leap the King!” Aim: To educate on the different clutch sizes of different species of frogs and the ability of frogs to leap. Description: Kids learnt about the different clutch sizes of native frogs and got to test their estimation skills by guessing the number of frog eggs in our “clutch”. Kids could then see how they measured up against their new-found frog friends in a leaping challenge by taking part in a standing broad jump contest.

Children at Singapore Zoo learning about the morphological differences of frogs and their tadpoles. 3. “Ecological Pest Busters!” Aim: To educate kids on the diet of frogs and importance of frogs in pest control. Description: Kids joined their frog friends to eliminate pests in a shooting game.

4. “Tadfrog Match” Aim: To educate people on the morphological differences of different species of frogs and their tadpoles. Description: Have you ever had anyone tell you that you have dad’s nose or mum’s eyes? Frogs however, look quite different from their young. Kids could see how good they are at piecing the frog family portrait together, and learn more about where and how they live.

5. “Metamorphosize!” Aim: To educate kids on the life cycle of frogs and their amazing metamorphosis. Description: By putting the frog stages of growth in the right order, kids got to find out how frogs grow and see how these unique creatures differ from other animals through metamorphosis.

Orana Park - leapingOrana Park Leap Day events – Toby Johnson, Education Manager, Orana Wildlife Park

With our post-earthquake restructure lessening our staffing and diminished visitation we had to take a lower key approach than we had hoped to be able to do. We based our event on a series of “highlight” panels around the Park that drew attention to frogs and the unique features of our native species. Panels were sited in bizarre locations around the Park (including the middle of a waterway) to elicit a ‘treasure hunt’ experience and associated with compatible existing interactive interpretation such as the Tiger Leap, Pest Post, Trampoline and Hopscotch Playground.

The panels were supplemented with quiz sheets that drew on the information presented, Year of the Frog activity sheets for children were distributed, frog masks were distributed to Zoo School classes and the daily Reptile House presentation was refocused to amphibians and their plight.

Oklahoma City frog exhibit opening coincides with Leap Day – Matt Patterson, The Oklahoman (www.newsok.com)

Read more: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-frog-exhibit-opening-coincides-with-leap-day/article/3653159#ixzz1olhJVmqM A blue-legged mantella, Oklahoma City Zoo, Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

Leap Day is about an extra day in February, but at the Oklahoma City Zoo, it was also a day to educate visitors about four-legged creatures that are important to the environment. The zoo opened a new frog exhibit Wednesday with several additions to its collection. There was some fun and games, too.

“We want to share conservation stories and we want to conserve species,” curator Stacey Sekscienski said. “The first step in conservation is making people appreciate what you’re trying to conserve. That’s what we’re doing with this exhibit.”

The exhibit at Island Treasures in Island Life will feature seven new frogs not previously exhibited at the zoo, including the Strawberry Dart Frog, Asian Climbing Toads and the Cinnamon Tree Frog. Some are as small as an eraser head while others are so well camouflaged the untrained eye wouldn’t know they are there.

The zoo offered several activities to go along with Leap Day including frog origami, toad abode show-and-tell, amphibian transformers and catch-a-bug frog-style.

Several of the frogs on display are endangered. The Brown Mantella is native to Madagascar. The Puerto Rican Crescent Toad also is endangered. One reason is habitat loss. Frog reproduction is often more complicated than with other animals. A Blue-legged Mantella in its habitat at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman.

Buffalo Zoo’s Leaping Ahead of Extinction event – Jennifer Fields, Public Relations Coordinator, Buffalo Zoo

The Buffalo Zoo held its Leaping Ahead of Extinction event on February 29 (Leap Day itself!). Because the event took place on a Wednesday during the day, we designed the event to be more appealing to a younger crowd, particularly preschool age.

Our first school group (consisting of approximately fifteen students) arrived at the start of the event and delighted in helping the Zoo’s Herpetological Manager, Penny Felski, feed the dart frogs. After Penny spoke to the group about the frogs, she encouraged them to take part in our metamorphosis crafts.

Once the Zoo’s Cub Club preschool program ended for the day, the program’s participants and their parents arrived at the event in time for the Dress Like a Frog activity. Penny used special props to help enhance her descriptions of the special attributes of frogs, including their eyes, webbed feet, ears and skin so the children could better understand how frogs are well suited for their environment. The kids loved the big googly-eyed glasses she wore!

The event ended with additional keeper talks about the Buffalo Zoo’s involvement in the conservation of the Puerto Rican Crested Toad, Panamanian Golden Frog and Eastern Hellbender. Educational posters were also displayed so visitors had the opportunity to read more about the projects. In between talks, visitors were able to talk to some of the Zoo’s docents, who were on hand with some amphibian biofacts.

The event offered families a unique and educational way to celebrate Leap Day, and was a big success. The event drew local coverage from The Buffalo News, which sent a photographer. Photos from the event were printed in the newspaper the next day.

The Buffalo Zoo is proud to work in conjunction with Amphibian Ark to help spread the message of amphibian conservation!

Leaping Ahead of Extinction at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle – Jenny Pramuk, Curator, North Team, Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, USA held three days of Leap Day-themed activities.

Citizen scientists at a local wetland near Seattle monitoring for amphibian egg masses. Saturday February 25 highlighted the Zoo’s new amphibian monitoring project, in which citizen scientists monitor salamander and frog populations in western Washington. This is a collaborative project between Woodland Park Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Northwest Trek which aims to gather much needed data on local amphibian populations. On this day, we held a hands-on training session in the field where our citizen scientists practiced identifying amphibian egg masses and using GPS technology.

Activities on Leap Day focused on our younger guests with amphibian-themed crafts, keeper chats, puppet shows, and other interactive activities. On the following Saturday, March 3, we hosted more Leap Day activities and also offered lectures by Ron Gagliardo from Amphibian Ark and Jenny Pramuk, the Zoo’s curator of Herpetology. Their talks focused on the amazing world of amphibians and what is being done locally and globally to save them from extinction.

On Saturday, the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society was also on hand to discuss frogs and other amphibians and Webbly, the Everett AquaSox baseball team’s Red-eyed Tree-frog mascot was here to greet our guests. Children aged 3–12 dressed in green or other frog-themed gear received free admission to the Zoo.

A Seattle Times photographer documented the citizen science monitoring, which resulted in a front local cover photo in the Sunday edition plus an online gallery of fourteen photos.

Leap Day activities at Jacksonville Zoo, Florida – Dino Ferri, Curator of Herpetology, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Visitors to the Jacksonville Zoo on Leap Day were involved in a number of activities and helped to raise funds for  amphibian conservation.The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens held a Leaping Ahead of Extinction event on February 29. Two local frog-related organizations in the Jacksonville area came out to host booths at this event as well.

The Zoo had a special admission offer in honor of Leap Day and the event that allowed anyone with a birthday on Leap Day to have free admission to the Zoo for the day. There was an amphibian-themed scavenger hunt with prizes as well as prize drawings each hour. Herpetology staff also gave behind-the-scene tours to guests at our Save the Frogs Amphibian Conservation Center. A local artist donated a frog canvas painting for the Zoo to include in a raffle to raise money for amphibian conservation. Herpetology staff also sold art done by the Zoo’s own amphibians for donations.

The Zoo raised almost $200 for amphibian conservation that day. The event was a fun, successful event that allowed the Jacksonville Zoo to reach out to the community about the importance of amphibian conservation.

Do you have what is takes to be the toad? Hop to the Houston Zoo for our Leap Day Extravaganza! – Rachel Rommel – Conservation Programs Manager, Houston Zoo

Everything is bigger in Texas and our Leap Day celebration on March 3 was no exception! The Houston Zoo partnered with Amphibian Ark’s Leaping Ahead of Extinction campaign and our friends at Painted Dog Conservation/Nechilibi Primary School in Zimbabwe to raise awareness and appreciation for amphibians.

We were quite excited to unveil the much anticipated Houston Toad Maze where children play the role of the toad and experience the life cycle of this endangered species while learning about some of the threats they face in their habitat – from fire ants to highway mortality. Students then had the opportunity to meet our live ambassador Houston Toads, learn about our head start program, and chat with our conservation staff. This activity can be adapted for many different amphibian species, is inexpensive, highly interactive and popular with kids and parents. Contact rrommel@houstonzoo.org if you are interested using this activity for future frog related events. Budding amphibian biologists learnt how to use the equipment biologists use to study wild animals.After properly falling in love with the toad, families had the opportunity to help wild Houston Toads in their habitat by making native grass seed balls which will go back to landowners managing their property for this endangered species. Native grasses around breeding ponds protect little metamorphs and promote insect diversity for hungry toads. Again, contact us for this recipe if you are interested!

Calling all future amphibian biologists! Another interactive booth helped to promote our one-of-kind program, Toad Trackers, where students get to study a population of wild toads at the Houston Zoo. These budding little frog lovers learn how to use the equipment and technology biologists use to study wild animals, providing an appreciation for science as a career possibility and further promoting their love and stewardship of native wildlife.

Other activities included amphibian keeper chats from our Herpetology staff and frog-related challenges and a Tiny Tadpole Story Safari from our Education staff.

Lastly, our 12,447 visitors at the Zoo that day had the opportunity to make their own unique thumbprint frog on a huge Leaping Ahead of Extinction banner that will go to Painted Dog Conservation and the wonderful students at Nechilibi Primary School in Zimbabwe. Houston Zoo conservation staff visited Zimbabwe in November of 2011 to conduct an amphibian related Kids for Science program which has flowered into students becoming ambassadors for amphibians in their school and local villages.

Activities during Leap Frog Week at the Toronto Zoo – Crystal Robertson, Stewardship and Social Marketing Coordinator, Toronto Zoo

Young visitors to the Toronto Zoo during Leap Frog Week.Leap Frog Week at the Toronto Zoo was celebrated from February 29 through March 4 and included a chance for the public to learn about amphibian declines, Amphibian Ark and some of the behind the scenes work that goes on in our Amphibian Rescue Centre. Both the African Rainforest Pavilion and the Americas Pavilion were host to two species never before on display at the zoo, the Splashback Poison Dart Frog (Adelphobates galactonotus) and the Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca). These were accompanied by wetland conservation staff who spoke to zoo visitors about the challenges facing frogs worldwide and how they can help locally by getting involved in local citizen naturalist programs to report frog sightings in their own communities.

Staff and volunteers also encouraged visitors to take part in an information scavenger hunt to learn about the frogs that call the Toronto Zoo home. A television interview helped spread the word about our celebration throughout the Greater Toronto area. The public response was fantastic and over 4,100 people were delighted to not only meet our friendly toad mascot and take photos with our new larger than life frog model, but to learn about how the Toronto Zoo is making a difference for amphibians.

Leaping Ahead of Amphibian Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012 in South Asia coordinated by Zoo Outreach Organisation – R. Marimuthu, Education Officer, Zoo Outreach Organisation

Amphibian Ark’s newest international event, called “Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012” had immense potential to attract and encourage all ages of folks to “think frog”. Though this event was focused globally on institutions that are conserving amphibian species in captivity and wild, Zoo Outreach Organisation coordinated this program for many institutions the South Asian region.

Since most South Asian zoos don’t keep amphibians in captivity, we focused on creating awareness among visitors and school groups of the importance of amphibians in the ecosystem. Our educator network members were invited to apply for materials and conduct a program. Sixteen institutions from India and one each from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan participated in this event.

We reprinted AArk’s attractive Leap Day posters, plus supplied five kinds of amphibian masks, colouring books, South Asian Amphibian posters and amphibian education packets to Indian participants and for Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan participants we had the soft copies of the materials. Overall, we supplied 1000 posters, 250 South Asian Amphibian posters, 1,500 masks and 150 colouring books. The following educators and institutions from India, Nepal and Bangladesh participated in this event and created mass awareness on that day:

Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu – B. Rathinasabapathy

Tribal school students participated in the Leap Day event organized by Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park.Nilgiri Biosphere Nature Park organized a program for the Government Tribal Residential School, Anaikatti on February 29. Fifty students of 9th and 10th Standare aged fourteen and fifteen took part in the event. The event comprised of a small brief about the theme “Leaping Ahead of Extinction: Global amphibian diversity and the Western Ghats amphibian diversity. Small interactive sessions were conducted with students, especially to highlight the threats faced by amphibians locally and globally and the necessity to try and conserve them. A “frog walk” event was organized for students to teach them about frog locomotion. All the students have taken a pledge to protect amphibians. Amphibian colouring books were given to the winners of the frog walk event. AArk posters and masks were given to all the remaining students.

Lucknow University, Uttar Pradesh – Dr. Amita Kanaujia

The Department of Zoology at Lucknow University organized a Leap Day event with the support of Uttar Pradesh State Biodiversity Board, Regional Science City, Lucknow, Zoo Outreach Organisation, and the Amphibian Network of South Asia, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. The program was conducted at Regional Science City, Aliganj, Lucknow, involving students of class 5-8. Teachers and students with amphibian education kits at Lucknow. The aim of the program was to raise awareness regarding amphibian conservation among the students through various competitions based on Amphibian topics.

About 162 students participated in a quiz; 190 students wrote slogans on amphibian conservation, more than 50 students participated in frog leap, 126 students participated in an art competition; and eight groups of four students each participated in puzzle making. In all, more than 300 students participated in the events.

More than 200 handouts on amphibians were distributed among the students and teachers. The celebration of Leap Day was a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach for amphibian conservation. The purpose of this day was to teach students the importance of amphibians and the need of every citizen to contribute to what has become a monumental task. This program created mass public awareness and support for amphibian conservation activities through targeted campaigns and formal and non-formal education. The unforgettable objectives were to build partnerships with local and traditional communities for effective amphibian conservation.

Ms. Rani Kirubairaj, Teacher, CCM Higher Secondary School, Idayangudi, Tirunelveli

Samariah St. John’s Higher Secondary School participated in the international Leap Day event on February 29 by celebrating the Leaping Ahead of Extinction program. After a stimulating inauguration and speeches, science club students conducted a seminar: How to conserve frogs. All wore the frog masks supplied by Zoo Outreach Organisation. National Green Crops girl students belonging to 9 Std enacted a drama. The students chanted slogans about protecting amphibians, and placards and photographs of some rare species of frogs were exhibited. They took all the Leap Day pledge, and it was useful and enlightening for everyone.

CCM Higher Secondary School participated also in  the Leaping Ahead of Extinction program on February 29. Chief Guest Dr. Solomon inspired the gathering by explaining how frogs are important in the food chain, their medicinal and aesthetic values and also he talked about poisonous frogs.  National Green Corps boys wore masks of different frogs and enacted a drama. The National Green Corps girls sang an awareness song: “On Leap Day let us be glad, sing and dance because the people are going to conserve us, the ponds have stone banks and trees are planted there, water is clean”. The Leap Day pledge was acknowledged. Afterwards an evaluation was carried out in which village workers admitted that they used to chase off frogs using brooms and frogs turned upside down. They said that hereafter they will be kind to them. Students confessed some bad behaviour with regard to frogs and said that the event had changed them and they would not do this again. A bulletin board was displayed with information about frogs which taken from ZOO’s education materials and this board was visited by all.

Zoo Outreach Organisation, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu – R. Marimuthu

Indian zoo educators leaping for Amphibian Conservation at Bhopal Workshop: The Second Central Zoo Authority, Government of India  “National Workshop for Zoo Educators on Conservation Education” was held at Bhopal from February 27 to March 1.. Twenty-four participants from twenty-two zoos across India participated in this workshop. Most of them are education staff and a few of them were other staff that are also responsible for education.

Indian Zoo Educators leaping ahead for saving amphibians.Discussions included different methods for creating awareness among the public about why we have to conserve amphibians, by publishing and supplying education materials and by handing out different types of printed material. Zoo Outreach Organisation’s education officer gave a good presentation on amphibians ending with a description of this year’s Leap Day program.  Participants were then taken out and shown Zoo Outreach Organisation’s various amphibian education materials and activities since 2007, and how they can use these materials at their own zoos to teach about amphibian conservation, with a variety of audiences.

Subsequently they were introduced to a frog-leap activity. They had to leap like frogs and commit themselves to promote amphibian conservation.  All participated in the activity enthusiastically, forgetting about their age and dignity! At the same time they learned new techniques to be followed in their regular education activity and how to be part of international environmental events like this.

Dr. A. Manimozhi, Biologist (SG), AAZP and Ms. Jessie Jeyakaran, Volunteer Educator, Chennai

Students with their AArk Leap Day posters and wearing amphibian masks.Forty six students from Madras Christian College Campus Matriculation School, thirty-six students from Murray Rabindhra School and forty students from Madras Christian College NSS, Tambaram, Chennai attended this cooperative event. Students were appraised about the Amphibian Ark program in 2008 and pamphlets and awareness program were conducted and frog sightings were recorded until 2011. Following that the Leaping Ahead of Extinction campaign was introduced this Leap Day. The chief guest talked to the participants about the importance of February 29 explaining the celebration of amphibians. A great deal of information was shared by the organizers, such as how frogs play a vital role in our environment and in our lives by being a pest controller and a food for other species in the food web. Later, participants were divided into different groups and taught different frog calls with a musical rhythm.

The special poster printed for Leap Day was explained and distributed and students were asked to share their experience with friends, parents, and neighbours and to the people in the parks and picnic spots. At the end of the event a quiz program was organized and the winners were provided prizes which were issued by Zoo Outreach Organisation.

Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Tamil Nadu – Mittal Gala and Gayathri Selvaraj

Kindergarten children wearing amphibian masks and holding the South Asian amphibian posters. On February 29 Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/Centre for Herpetology conducted a Leap Day amphibian awareness program for twenty children of lower kindergarten Headstart Learning Centre International School, Chennai. The materials provided by Zoo Outreach Organisation were used for the program. The day began with a PowerPoint presentation with lots of cartoons, pictures and video clips to support the massive amount of information. The presentation was based mainly on the sample kit from the packet ‘Frogs are part of Biodiversity’.

To ensure that every child received a complete package of items and activities, twenty Amphibian Activity Packs were made using material provided in the package, including masks and reproducing materials like ’word search’, mazes, arts and crafts from Zoo Outreach Organisation’s Helping Herps booklet. Every kid got a Global Warning patch to color and stick on a candy stick, with this idea taken from the Zoo Outreach ‘Amphibian Ark-2008’ and ‘Amphibian art and craft activities for kids’. The children and the teachers not only enjoyed this presentation, but learnt about amphibians and why we should protect them. The program concluded with the children wearing frog and toad masks and doing a frog leap to celebrate Leap Day and the cause of amphibian conservation. The poster on South Asian Amphibians was left with the teachers for the classroom and library along with two amphibian colouring books.

Royal Museum of Natural History, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh – Mr. Dilip Chakravarthy, CEE and Dr. Sethuramalingam

Banner made for the Leap Day amphibian program.Leap year day comes once every four years. Similarly, frogs are known for their leaping behavior. Hence the same day has been chosen to highlight the leaping animals, frogs, and their importance in the ecosystem. This international event arranged at the Regional Museum of Natural History, jointly with Bhopal and Centre for Environmental Education called “Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012” was conducted to simply create an awareness among people that amphibians are important to ecosystems, harmless to human beings except in rare cases of disease or allergy. They are declining severely in the wild due to habitat destruction and severe climate change.

The objective of the program was to spread the message of amphibian conservation to everyone, to understand and convey that all have a responsibility to take care of our precious planet. At the Regional Museum of Natural History campus along with few hundred students, the Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal along with Centre for Environment Education, CEE observed this Leap Day by conducting activities and programs about amphibians. Resource materials from the Zoo Outreach Organisation in India were distributed to students and to the general public.

Leap Day celebration: “Conserving Our Frogs” at Zoo Negara – Nik Nuradzimah Nik Adnan, Enrichment & Research Unit, Zoo Negara

Leap Day Celebration: Conserving Our Frogs was an event put on by the Enrichment and Research Unit at Zoo Negara Malaysia in conjunction with the Amphibian Ark event. To coincide with Leap Day (February 29th), Amphibian Ark is coordinating an international event, Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012.

The event at Zoo Negara lasted for two days, filled with activities like frogs exhibitions, Amphibians of Peninsular Malaysia seminar, frog conservation pledge, frog puzzle, coloring activities, frog and ladder and pin the frog.

An informative booth that was decorated to mimic the natural forest environment and filled with live and preserved frog specimens was set up at Zoo Negara for Leap Day. The event was held on Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 February at the Zoo Negara entrance. This event was run on the weekend to ensure maximum exposure of the frog conservation awareness to our visitors. It was two days filled with informative and fun activities at two separate booths.

Activities on the first day were interactive with the visitors at an informative booth that was decorated to mimic the natural forest environment, filled with live and preserved frog specimens, posters of frogs, trees and ponds with tadpoles. In the afternoon there was a seminar given by Associate Professor Dr Norhayati Ahmad from the National University of Malaysia entitled “Amphibians of Peninsular Malaysia” at the Tunku Abdul Rahman theatre, Zoo Negara. During the seminar, there was one statement that caught our audience’s attention which was “I don’t know why are people afraid of frogs?” Frogs are the safest animal because they don’t have teeth to bite and they are not slimy, they are just wet. In the evening, activities continued with a frog conservation pledge, frog and ladder, frog puzzle and pin the frog for kids throughout the day.

It was fun to see visitors, mostly parents with their children, explore the exhibition booth, searching for the live frogs hiding near or below trees, rocks or moss in the aquarium, live frog life cycle from the egg to adult and information about frog conservation.

On the second day, Secret Recipe mock cheque presentation took place at the beginning of the day. A cake-cutting ceremony was held between representatives of the Zoo and Secret Recipe respectively. Our event was expanded with the inclusion of a Paya Indah Wetlands booth located at the activity booth. Paya Indah Wetlands is the main place for Malaysian ecotourism, covering with 3,100 hectares, and located in Kuala Langat, Selangor.

There was very positive feedback from our visitors, with many suggest we have this event for a longer period. The event overall was a complete success. The frog conservation pledge will hang at the Amphibian World, Zoo Negara Malaysia.

Chester Zoo leapt into action for Leap Day – Catherine Barton, Assistant Conservation Officer, Chester Zoo

At Chester Zoo we launched our online Amphibian Project (www.actforwildlife.org.uk/projects/amphibian) to coincide with the Leaping Ahead of Extinction campaign, maximizing exposure during the event. As part of our support for the campaign, we wanted to inspire members of the public to learn more about our amphibian conservation work.

An amphibian display in the Tropical Realm at Chester Zoo. Our most innovative activity was the production of our mobile phone ringtone. The mating calls of the Green-eyed Frog (Lithobates vibicarius) were recorded and made available as a ringtone. Chester Zoo maintains the world’s only population of Green-eyed Frogs outside of its native Costa Rica. We hoped to inspire an interest in the plight of the frogs by giving people the chance to hear their unusual calls every time their mobile phone rang.

We held special events at Chester Zoo leading up to Leap Day. This included education presenters and members of our amphibian team interacting with visitors at our amphibian exhibits and talking to them about our work. Our lead keeper Ben Baker had just returned from Montserrat where he was involved in the Mountain Chicken Recovery Program and visitors were fascinated by his stories. One lucky visitor was rewarded with her very own mountain chicken adoption after successfully completing our specially designed Leaping Ahead of Extinction quiz (www.chesterzoo.org/~/media/Files/Conservation/Leaping%20Ahead%20Quiz_Joint%20logo.ashx).

Visitors to Chester Zoo, both online and in person, couldn’t help but notice amphibians at Chester Zoo on Leap Day 2012.

Perth Zoo’s Sunset Frog mascot, which made its debut on Leap Day.Leap Day activities at Perth Zoo – Debbie Read, Media and Communications Manager, Perth Zoo

To celebrate Leap Day on February 29, Perth Zoo held celebrations between February 25 and March 5. A variety of frog conservation programs and fun activities were held for all ages to raise awareness about the plight of frogs in Australia and globally.

Activities included a free frog activity trail, Jane Davenport’s fabulous Frogology photography exhibition of Australian frogs, daily frog stories, frog keeper talks and a competition to encourage visitors to make a pledge to help protect frogs in Western Australia. Feedback is that the celebrations were received positively by visitors.

Leap weekend @ Melbourne Zoo – Michelle Cooper, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria

Over the first weekend in March, Zoos Victoria participated in Amphibian Ark’s ‘Leaping Ahead of Extinction’ promotion. Focusing our efforts at Melbourne Zoo, we showcased the five amphibian species we are working to secure a future for, making up 25% of Zoos Victoria’s twenty priority native threatened species programs – Two of Zoos Victoria’s new “Extinction Fighter Superheros”,  Baw Baw Frog and Stuttering Frog.  Artwork: Melanie Matthews.Baw Baw Frog (Philoria frosti), Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree), Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne pengilleyi), Spotted Tree Frog (Litoria spenceri) and Stuttering Frog (Mixophyes balbus).

Visitors were given the opportunity to meet a frog and look through mock-frog nests in search of Corroboree Frog eggs. Children were given masks to colour in and collector cards of our Amphibian Extinction Fighters to swap with their friends. Others were treated to Raelene Hobbs’ reliving the story of discovering the egg mass of the Critically Endangered Baw Baw Frog, and subsequent challenges of securing its future, both in captivity and in the wild.

Finally visitors were provided with a call-to-action with our ‘Wash for Wildlife’ campaign and were given the opportunity to publicly pledge to use phosphate-free (NP) washing detergents to provide a reprieve for our waterways. Complimentary samples of phosphate-free laundry detergents were provided by Aware for visitors that were inspired to seek amphibian-friendly alternatives for washing.

Two of Zoos Victoria’s new “Extinction Fighter Superheros”,  Baw Baw Frog and Stuttering Frog.  Artwork: Melanie Matthews.The visitor’s response to our Leap Weekend was extremely positive. This reflected the effective delivery of activities that catered for a wide range of ages and understanding of the threats to amphibians all over the world. Our ‘Extinction Fighter Superheros’ proved extremely engaging for kids and provided an opportunity for us to deliver conservation messages about our ‘Fighting Extinction’ priority species.

Fighting Extinction is Zoos Victoria’s over-arching wildlife conservation framework, within which our Fighting Extinction commitment is to prevent the extinction of twenty priority native threatened species. See https://www.zoo.org.au/fighting-extinction/ for more information.

Chiapas at Leap Frog Day 2012 – Bíol. Jerónimo Domínguez Laso, Director, ZooMAT

In order to raise awareness about the importance of amphibians and their conservation to the visitors of Zoo “Miguel Alvarez del Toro” (ZooMAT) in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico, an event organized by Amphibian Ark was held for the first time on February 29. The event coincided with Leap Day, and the goal was to commemorate this special day, along with sixty other organizations worldwide that are committed to amphibian conservation.

Children wearing their frog masks at Zoo “Miguel Alvarez del Toro” (ZooMAT) in Chiapas, Mexico. The event took place in a building located within the Zoo where we are currently working to develop the “Amphibian Ark of ZooMAT”, where the main objective is exhibition and research for the conservation of amphibians found in our state.

Among the activities, Biol. Jeronimo Dominguez Laso, Director of ZooMAT and the manager of the Amphibian Ark of ZooMAT, and Biol. Mayra Alonso Ramos gave an introductory talk about amphibians and why we are keeping them, to a total of a hundred children and ten adults. Later, videos about the lives of amphibians were shown, as well as art and craft activities for the children. We also presented the 1st Traveling Photographic Collection “Mexican Amphibians” and displayed the photos from the 1st Amphibian Photography Contest of the 1st International Week of Awareness and Assessment of Amphibians.

We achieved a successful event, wide acceptance and certainly a positive impact on all participants during this event, and we hope to continue encouraging these activities to promote conservation of the amphibian species live in our region, and how we can contribute to their survival.

Special thanks to the People Social Service and volunteers who provided support during the realization of this event.

Leap Day 2012: Leaping Ahead of Extinction at Taman Safari Indonesia – Keni Sultan, S.Pt., M.Si, drh. Retno Sudarwati, and Sharmy Prastiti, Am.D, Taman Safari Indonesia

Taman Safari Indonesia (TSI) held a variety of activities over a nine-day period to coincide with Leap Day. School students and visitors to TSI very much enjoyed the Leap Day events.

Leap Day activities began with observation and mapping of frog population in the Indonesia Safari Park area on February 24. A team from TSI together with herpetologists from the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) conducted the observation and mapping of frog populations in the Indonesia Safari Park area. The research was conducted at four sites: Pasiripis, Parkir G, Curug jaksa and Rumah Dua. During two hours of observation, the team identified thirteen frog species that live there and two of them, Limnonectes macrodon and Huia masonii are Vulnerable species (IUCN Redlist 2011). This research will be continued for other sites in the TSI area. Many visitors came to the special frog exhibition at the Baby Zoo at Taman Safari.

Many visitors came to the frog exhibition at the Baby Zoo, and they found this to be a very interesting display. In this exhibition, visitors was given information about frogs by TSI staff and herpetologists from IPB. The frog exhibition at the Baby Zoo will remain in place, as it has been very popular with our visitors.

In this exhibition frogs and toads that live within TSI’s area are displayed in eight terariums which also feature the habitat of these species. Information sheet such as posters, banners and leaflets were displayed to raise visitor’s knowledge about our frogs.

On Leap Day (February 29) TSI invited about 100 students from elementary schools, junior high schools and senior high schools to visit us, so we could raise awareness about frog conservation and the important role of frogs in the ecosystem.

Beginning at 10.00 a.m, the activities started with a a brief presentation about frogs and their status in Indonesia by IPB’s herpetologists, Adininggar Ul Hasanah, S.Hut. The discussion session then continued with with IPB herpetologists, Mirza D Kusrini, Ph.D, Adininggar Ul Hasanah, and S.Hut. The Director of TSI, Drs. Jansen Manansang, M.Sc also spoke at this event for about 25 minutes.

On Leap Day there were also some games for elementary school students such as coloring pictures and contests for imitating different frog calls. The Leap Day event finished with a visit to the frog exhibit at the Baby Zoo.

A frog conservation education program “Frog Camp” was held the at Camping Ground Kembara, Indonesia Safari Park on March 3 and 4, and fourteen students from seven senior high schools in Bogor participated in the camp. Frog Camp is a program that was initiated by IPB’s herpetologists and this is the fourth time that the camp has been held. Activities at the Frog Camp began at 10.00 a.m and all participants walked around the area of TSI in the Safari Trek Program. This raised awareness of the students to sustainable environmental practices at TSI. Then, at 3.00 p.m. a brief presentation was given by IPB herpetologists Adininggar Ul-hasanah and Mirza D. Kusrini, Ph.D. At 8.00 p.m, the students went searching for frogs and those that were found were identified by the herpetologists. After breakfast, the following morning, each group presented their activities during the Frog Camp Program, and finally, all participants visited the frog exhibition at the Baby Zoo.

Watch how the biggest caecilian (amphibian without legs) in the world feeds – Luis A. Coloma, Jambatu, Center for Amphibian Research and Conservation, Quito, Ecuador

The world’s largest recorded caecilian, Caecilia guntheri.The Jambatu Center opens its door to allow you to get to know and participate in a live video which shows how the amazing Cecilia de Günther (Caecilia guntheri) feeds. It has specialized mechanisms and sensorial and morphological adaptations that allow it to catch its prey. For example, it has a sensorial eversible tentacle in the lower part of its head. Its mouth is full of sharp teeth.

Holding the world record of 160cm and 1.4 lb, an individual from the Otokiki Reserve near to Alto Tambo (Provincia de Esmeraldas, Ecuador), this species is the largest caecilian known. The previous record was for Caecilia thompsoni from the Magdalena River Valley in Colombia.

The Ecuadorian researchers Italo and Elicio Tapia (associated with the Jambatu Center), found this specimen on the night of November 14, 2011 using head-flashlights. They found additional individuals, with one of them measuring 150cm, which is kept alive as part of the Ex Situ Conservation and Management Program, Arca de los Sapos of the Jambatu Center.

The researchers have been studying its feeding habits and discovered that they can feed on giant earthworms of more than a meter long, and they also feed on amphibians, rodents and other prey. This event is part of the world celebration Jumping Ahead of Extinction on February 29.

Leap Day events by Proyecto Coqui in Puerto Rico – Rafael Joglar and Patricia Burrowes, University of Puerto Rico

Visitors to Proyecto Coqui’s photographic exhibition of the local species by Rafael L. Joglar.Last February 29, Proyecto Coqui celebrated extant Puerto Rican frogs with a special “Leaping ahead of extinction” activity at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. The University community and the general public were invited to a half-day venture that started at noon with a photographic exhibition of the local species by Rafael L. Joglar, and live frog exhibits entertained by graduate and undergraduate students at the Joglar and Burrowes herpetology lab.

At 6:00 pm Patricia A. Burrowes offered a talk on “The coquis of Puerto Rico: marvels, curiosities and why we should protect them” that was attended by over one hundred people many, of whom were kids with their parents. After the talk, those that were interested stayed along for guided tours around the university campus to look for coquis. We had three groups of approximately twenty people each, that had the opportunity to learn to distinguish visually and acoustically four of our endemic species. The grand prize of the night was the encounter of a male Eleutherodactylus coqui guarding a clutch of eggs!

One of the keys to the success of this event was that we had excellent media coverage through radio and TV, not only to invite the public to attend, but to help us disseminate the message of the importance of conserving the amphibians that have “leaped ahead of extinction” in spite of all the many threats they face.

Leap Day in Bolivia – Arturo Muñoz Saravia, Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny, Bolivia

School children learning about amphiban conservation at the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Cochabamba, Bolivia.On Sunday February 25, Wednesday February 29 and Saturday March 3 the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative organized educational activities with the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

During this week we shared information about amphibians, their diversity, threats, importance and conservation status. The aim was to raise awareness about amphibian declines and the work that Bolivian conservationists are developing in Bolivia. During this period we prepared a number of activities and we used the media to share the information about Leap Day and the amphibian situation. For this, we used media such as newspapers, radio and TV programs and also the different websites (see more on our web site www.bolivianamphibinainitiative.org).

We also organized a national photography contest in two categories: Bolivian amphibians and endangered Bolivian amphibians, and we asked people from all Bolivia to participate with photos of Bolivian amphibians. We also organized a drawing contest for kids under twelve years old. During the different days in the week we organized outdoor and indoor activities such as:

  • Doll show to explain the several threats of amphibian for example deforestation pollution, diseases and human activities. At the end of the show, discussion with biologists allowed the children to think about how they can help to decrease amphibian extinction in their every-day life.
  • Climb like a frog: a boulder wall allowed the children to climb and learn more about amphibians with games about amphibians.
  • Educational material such as books, masks, puzzles and several quizzes were given to the children to enhance their knowledge about amphibians. The children were also encouraged to draw their “favourite amphibian” as part of a drawing contest.
  • Living animals (adults, juveniles and tadpoles) from the exhibition and others from the around the city were useful to show to children the different stages of metamorphosis and their implication as change of alimentary regime, respiration or development.
  • Insects and worms were captured and given as food to the exhibition frogs to explain to the children the alimentary regime of the frogs.
  • Several other outdoor activities were organized such as jumping games to explain to the children how far frogs can jump.

All these activities were focused to raise awareness about the amphibian situation in Bolivia and how the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative with the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny is working to prevent amphibians from further extinction.

Have you seen a Tiger Salamander? – Media release from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, Nebraska

Omaha, NE (February 29, 2012) – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo® needs your help!

We are on the lookout for tiger salamanders, a species that was last spotted in this area almost 10 years ago. We are looking to you for help in collecting data to see if they are still in eastern Nebraska. If you see one, log on to www.omahazoo.com and report the location. Remember, please do not touch or disturb the salamander, just let us know where you saw it. It’s that simple!

Tiger Salamanders are most active at night when the weather is cool and rainy, generally early March through mid-April. Individuals are usually traveling towards breeding ponds during this time. They might be seen around wetlands or woodland areas. During the day they spend their time in underground burrows or under logs. In the metro areas, they can be seen in window-wells or near watery areas. They range in size from six to eight inches in length and are usually black with yellow spots or stripes all over their body. Their status varies depending on the area of the country but they are listed as Endangered to Special Concern in different regions.

Our search for tiger salamanders has been timed to coincide with Amphibian Ark’s worldwide event Leaping Ahead of Extinction. This event promotes the great successes in the conservation of amphibians in captivity and in the wild. The focus is on institutions such as Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo that are managing amphibian rescue or supplementation programs, recommended either during an AArk conservation needs assessment or by national governments or field experts. Visit www.amphibianark.org for more information about amphibian programs globally. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo currently manages captive conservations programs for nine amphibian species that are endangered either on a global, local or national level.

Leaping Ahead of Extinction – Activities in Santa Fe Zoo, February 26th and 29th

To celebrate the Leaping Ahead of Extinction Day in the Santa Fe Zoo, we planned activities with visitors and with amphibian experts from different disciplines, who offered presentations on ex situ and in situ conservation, medicine and nutrition in different species of Colombian amphibians.

The program was: Young visitors to Santa Fe Zoo, making origami and plasticine frogs.

Sunday February 26th Activities with visitors

2:00–5:00 pm Exhibition of Phyllobates bicolor and explanations in charge of Scientific Club Children, they are carrying out research on amphibian conservation. The presentations were offered to the visitors, children and adults. The main topic was the importance of ex situ conservation as a solution for the world amphibian crisis. The scientific club children explain to visitors advances in their current researches: “Growth and development of Santa Fe Zoo frogs and tadpoles, phases I and II”. We invited visitors to make origami and plasticine frogs, also we gave booklets on amphibian conservation to the children who participated.

Wednesday February 29th Presentations by amphibian experts

2:00–3:00 pm Ex situ conservation, in charge of zoo amphibian keepers: Andrés Felipe Peña and Julio César Restrepo.

3:00–4:00 pm In situ conservation, in charge of Grupo Herpetológico de Antioquia – GHA Director: Juan Manuel Daza, PhD.

4:00–5:00 pm Amphibian nutrition, in charge of San ta Fe Zoo Nutritionist: Darwin Ruiz.

5:00-6:00 pm Amphibian Medicine, in charge of Santa Fe Zoo Veterinary Doctor: Martha Cecilia Ocampo.