The Denver Zoo is more than just a place where people come to see animals. The zoo is a big contributor to the conservation of many different species of animals. One of these animals is the Lake Titicaca frog.
Lake Titicaca frogs are the largest entirely aquatic amphibians, sometimes weighing in at over two pounds. These frogs are in danger of becoming extinct due to predators being introduced to the lake. Humans are also part of the equation. According to Rick Haeffner, Curator of Reptiles at the Denver Zoo, “there has been a big resurgence in collecting the frogs from the lake and turning them into food, primarily frog shakes.” Since the flesh of these frogs are believed by some to have healing qualities, vendors in Peru use the flesh to make shakes.
The Denver Zoo is working with scientists in Peru on the conservation efforts. We don’t know how many of these frogs are left or what would happen to the environment if they were to go extinct. The main conservation goals are to create a safe area for the frogs to live and to show the local people that frog shakes really don’t have any healing properties.
Haeffner also said, “The way it looks now, we’ll probably be bringing a hatched Lake Titicaca frog into the Denver Zoo this year.” This would make Denver the first zoo in North America to have a Lake Titicaca frog. The point of having this frog isn’t just so people can come and see it. Haeffner said the zoo is more than a place where people can see animals, “we want to talk about why the frogs are here and provide education about the frog to the people who come to see it.” This helps the zoo with the conservation efforts.
Conservation projects like this show that the Denver Zoo is more than just a place to see animals, but also a place to save them.