Disney’s Efforts to Save Rare Toads from Extinction on World Frog Day


Disney’s Efforts to Save Rare Toads from Extinction on World Frog Day

Surviving in the wild isn’t always a smooth journey, as exemplified by the struggles faced by the Puerto Rican Crested Toad. Since the 1920s, this unique species has grappled with population decline attributed to invasive marine toads, environmental pollution, habitat loss, and ongoing development on the island.

Regarded as an “indicator” species, Puerto Rican Crested Toads play a crucial role in signaling the health of endangered ecosystems. They also offer medical benefits to humans through substances that combat microbes and viruses, underscoring their significance in ecological balance and potential medical discoveries.

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This critically endangered toad species became the first amphibian placed on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1984. Animal experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, alongside other AZA-accredited facilities, collaborate to operate a successful specialized breeding program aimed at conserving endangered and threatened species.

Since 2011, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been actively involved in breeding Puerto Rican Crested Toads and facilitating the transportation of thousands of tiny tadpoles back to the island. Breeding efforts are typically concentrated in May, coinciding with the onset of the rainy season when toads can lay up to 15,000 eggs.

The management of this program has transitioned to the Puerto Rican Crested Toad Conservancy, working in tandem with experts nationwide, including dedicated keepers like Tayler at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Tayler highlights the exceptional care provided to invertebrates, reptiles, and amphibians by the ectotherm team, emphasizing the rewarding experience of witnessing tadpoles reintroduced into the wild in Puerto Rico.

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This introduction initiative is just one facet of Disney’s commitment to conservation, aiming to safeguard vulnerable species and inspire future generations to embrace conservation practices. By showcasing the resilience and unique characteristics of the Puerto Rican Crested Toad, Disney and its animal programs instill hope for a sustainable future.

In closing, while all toads are classified as frogs, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad stands out for its distinctive head crest, habitat preferences in dry forests, and notable size differences between genders. This remarkable species serves as a poignant reminder of the intricate beauty and importance of biodiversity in our ecosystems.

To learn more about Puerto Rican crested toads be sure to hop on over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or visit www.disney.com/conservation

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Chip is the owner, editor, and writer of Chip and Company. When he is not writing about Disney News or Planning Tips, you will find him counting down the days to his next Disney Vacation.
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