At the San Francisco Zoo, we believe that people have the intelligence and compassion to turn the current extinction and environmental crisis around; they just need some help to get motivated. That’s why we have made it our goal to inspire our one million annual visitors to take some form of conservation action. From breeding endangered species as a hedge against extinction, to operating our facility in a green manner, to working to preserve the habitat in our own backyard, the San Francisco Zoo practices what it preaches.
Conservation Spotlight: Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frogs
In support of the efforts to aid in the survival of the critically imperiled Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog (Rana sierrae), the SF Zoo has established the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog Conservation Program, a two-pronged conservation approach, including zoo-based support of ongoing field conservation efforts being carried out by a variety of government and non-governmental agencies .
We have established facilities and now house a population of adult R. sierrae that were former wild-caught research animals from populations which are now extinct in the wild. This group is the founder stock for a planned, captive breeding colony to produce frogs for release back into the wild. The released frogs will repopulate extinct populations or add needed individuals to fragmented populations in severe decline due to the epidemic wave of the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Chytrid fungus), which has swept through the Sierras.
In addition, a recently state-funded reintroduction effort in the Lake Tahoe Basin has produced an opportunity for the Zoo to assist with a headstarting and reintroduction program in conjunction with a novel study using a recently developed probiotic treatment that may provide an effective method of minimizing pathogen impacts. We have hatched 193 tadpoles from wild-collected egg masses and also have 10 wild-caught juvenile frogs. These animals will be the reintroduction frogs for Lake Tahoe.
This important conservation project began in 2010 at the Zoo and through the Zoo’s Conservation and Education Committee, over $26,000 of funding has been allocated for equipment, resources, and internships. The SF Zoo and the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog Conservation Program was awarded $21,000 by the AZA for CEF (Conservation Endowment Fund) for project 13-1193, Testing the Effectiveness of Headstarting as Part of a Conservation Toolbox to Restore the Sierra Nevada Yellow-Legged Frogs (Rana sierrae) to the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Upcoming Conservation Lecture Series