Local Conservation Efforts

The Mountain Yellow-legged Frog Conservation Program is one of the ways we help to make a difference locally. Read about our work helping this species survive and thrive. 

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 potential captive breeding colony to produce frogs for release back into the wild at some point in the future. The yellow-legged frogs are in severe decline due to the epidemic wave of the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid fungus), which has swept through the Sierras and the impact of introduced non-native fish.

A recently state-funded conservation effort in the Lake Tahoe Basin has produced an opportunity for the Zoo to assist with a novel study testing the effectiveness of reintroducing R. sierrae into an area where they have been extirpated. The frogs will be inoculated prior to release with a recently developed probiotic treatment that may provide an effective method of minimizing pathogen impacts. To assist with the study, the Zoo is raising 34 wild-caught juvenile frogs to adulthood. These animals will be the reintroduction frogs for Lake Tahoe during the first year of the field project. The study is a multi-year multi-agency project and involves intensive population monitoring and mark-recapture sampling in addition to the reintroduction. Partners in the project include San Francisco State University, University of California’s Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, California Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. The Zoo’s component of the project is funded by the AZA Conservation Endowment Fund and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

Click here to donate to this important conservation effort.