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5-20-15 puerto rican crested tadpoles
Jun 30, 2015

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Finds Success in Breeding Program for Rare Amphibian Species

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has taken action to help save the Puerto Rican crested toad, a critically endangered amphibian species, by successfully breeding the species at the Zoo and returning more than 1,600 tadpoles to that country for reintroduction.

TAMPA, Fla. (June 30, 2015) — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has taken action to help save the Puerto Rican crested toad, a critically endangered amphibian species, by successfully breeding the species at the Zoo and returning more than 1,600 tadpoles to that country for reintroduction.

As one of a few zoos to have a breeding group for these endangered toads, the herpetology team at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has successfully hatched and returned tadpoles several times in the last decade. However, the 2015 breeding season was the most successful for the Zoo to date, producing 1,687 tadpoles which were shipped aboard a commercial airliner to Puerto Rico and released the same day into protected pools in La Esperanza.

“The Puerto Rican Crested Toad Species Survival Plan (SSP) is delighted that Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is able to contribute directly to the recovery efforts for the crested toad. One of the most important parts of ensuring survival of this species is the reintroduction of tadpoles to establish new populations,” noted Diane Barber, program coordinator and curator of ecotherms at Fort Worth Zoo. “The Tampa tadpoles were released at our newest site in the north which has quickly begun to show promise as a new protected stronghold for the toad.”

The process of breeding Puerto Rican crested toads is neither easy nor quick. Several years ago, the Zoo invested in a protected quarantine area for four breeding pair of toads. Over a period of six weeks, the adult toads are cooled down (a hibernation period) where the females produce eggs. When the females are injected with hormones, they release the eggs which are fertilized by the males. Eggs hatch after two weeks, and quickly morph into tadpoles. Within two weeks of hatching, the tadpoles were packed and shipped tadpoles arrived in Puerto Rico within hours for transfer to the release site. All of the of Zoo’s tadpoles arrived in good health and were released into the protected pond in La Espeanza the same day.

“Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is fortunate to have staff with the animal husbandry skills and expertise to help to save imperiled amphibian species,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science at the Zoo. “Our location in central Florida is ideal for collaboration with global partners in Central and South America, in this case the government of Puerto Rico and amphibian conservation organizations.”

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and worldwide conservation organizations to bring awareness to the plight of the world's amphibians, and to actively participate in efforts to save them.

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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