Zoos and aquariums around the world have already accomplished some great work in amphibian conservation. But the time for status quo is far behind us: we must change our view and approach to amphibian conservation now. We are no longer talking about an amphibian population decline phenomenon, we are speaking of an amphibian species extinction crisis. 43% of amphibian species are experiencing decline, 32% are globally threatened, more than 120 species are possibly extinct, at least one family (with a unique reproductive mode) has been lost.
We are on the verge of losing a huge part of an entire vertebrate class, one more speciose than the mammals that are currently consuming the lion’s share of our resources. This epiphany comes with a charge – any organization that considers conservation a core goal must take immediate measures for significant action! Our response now must be in proportion to the crisis, lest we relegate ourselves to mere entertainment venues with no facade of conservation, as our critics have long accused. Not only are we uniquely qualified for the task, the rest of the conservation and scientific community is expecting us to respond.
“The summation of the 1999 space survey is that there is only enough space existing in AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) institutions to accommodate 10 taxa of amphibians at the management level of PMP (Population Management Plan) or SSP (Species Survival Plan). In these same institutions there is enough space allocated for mammals to accommodate at least 57 SSPs and the majority of these mammals have a body mass of more than 10 kg and significant space requirements. If each AZA institution allocated an additional 400 square foot building to amphibian management and provided keeper support for the facility, the number of taxa that could be managed at a PMP or SSP level would easily exceed 100 taxa. If AZA is to “Keep all the Pieces”, the theme of its 1996 annual conferences, then a wave of dedicated amphibian facilities must be built. Amphibians need dedicated space and should not be simply incorporated into Reptile Houses or included as a small part of biome or zoogeographically-themed facilities. If this dedicated space is lacking, zoos will never play a major role in maintaining amphibian biodiversity.” – Dr. Kevin Wright, ATAG 2000 Regional Collection Plan.
Download the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP)
Proceedings: IUCN/SSC Amphibian Conservation Summit 2005
A guide to husbandry and biosecurity standards required for the safe and responsible management of ex situ populations of amphibians – These standards are based upon those reported in the proceedings of the CBSG/WAZA Amphibian Ex situ Conservation Planning Workshop, El Valle, Panama, 12-15th February 2006.
2002 IUCN Technical Guidelines on the Management of Ex-situ populations for Conservation: “All Critically Endangered and Extinct in the Wild taxa should be subject to ex situ management to ensure recovery of wild populations.”
2005 IUCN ACAP White Papers: “Survival assurance colonies are mandatory for amphibian species that will not persist in the wild long enough to recover naturally once environments are restored; these species need to be saved now through ex-situ measures so that more complete restoration of ecosystems is possible in the future.”
2005 IUCN ACS Declaration: “The ACAP recommends prioritized … captive survival assurance programs … to buy time for species that would otherwise become extinct…”
2006 IUCN ACAP Draft: “The only hope for populations and species at immediate risk of extinction is immediate rescue for the establishment and management of captive survival-assurance colonies.”