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Care for the rare: Panamanian golden frogs

Hey everyone – my name is Char, and I’m a Keeper II with the Herpetology Team. That means I get to help take care of Zoo Atlanta’s amphibians and reptiles. This past week was time to update our photo IDs for some of your younger Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki) – our younger frogs will typically have their photo ID’s updated one to two times per year; this is because we use their unique back patterns to identify each individual.

As a golden frog grows, it slowly loses the black coloration of its patterns, becoming more and more golden as the years go on. Our guys will likely never be truly “golden” in color due to the population that they are from – in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) throughout the United States, there are three distinct populations of Panamanian golden frogs. We work very hard to keep them separate genetically so that when the time comes for releases into the wild, each population can return to its historic range in Panama. (The Panamanian golden frog is currently believed to be extinct in the wild.)

We weigh most of the animals in the Herpetology Department every month (the exceptions are our very large individuals like the giant Aldabra tortoises or our crocodiles, who only get weighed one to two times a year). These monthly weights include our many individual frogs – like our 50+ Panamanian golden frogs, which is why it is very important to make sure our photo IDs are up to date. We need to be able to tell everyone apart so that we can currently track their weights (and egg development for our females), making sure our younger frogs are growing at the right pace and that our older frogs are maintaining healthy body condition.

Learn more about this extraordinary – and extraordinarily rare – species here.
Char R.
Keeper II, Herpetology

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