Hoppin’ in to help
Frogs are disappearing from the planet at alarming rates. Whether faced with loss of their natural habitat or exposure to a deadly parasitic fungus, many more are at risk.
Time: From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday
Place: Honolulu Zoo
Admission: $8; $4 kamaaina, 13 years and older; $1 children, accompanied by an adult. Includes admission to zoo and special event. Free to members.
"We are in the middle of a global crisis where amphibians are involved," said Becky Choquette, Honolulu Zoo animal keeper.
The fungus, called amphibian chytrid, is deadly to hundreds of amphibian species. Untreatable in the wild, it can kill as many as 80 percent of native amphibians within months.
The Honolulu Zoo's "Leap Day" event is a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' nationwide campaign, "Leap for Frogs to Save the World's Amphibians." This year has been declared "Year of the Frog" to raise awareness of the dangers they face.
"We can all get together, make a difference and take part in saving amphibians on a national level," Choquette said.
"Frogs are an important part of our ecosystem," added Susie Wendland-Gardner, the zoo's director of education programs.
"They eat all sorts of insects, and are a critical part of the food chain. By controlling the insect population, (the frog) benefits successful agriculture and diminishes diseases like malaria."
"Leap Day" will use games, crafts, hands-on activities and talks by zoo keepers to raise consciousness about the role that amphibians play in ecosystems.
In the storytelling corner, enjoy frog stories including "A Frog Thing" by Eric Drachman, "Jump Frog Jump" and "Froggy" books by Robert Kalan and Byron Barton and Jonathan London.
And Choquette will be hanging out with Liz, an African bullfrog, who has "lots of personality for a frog," she said. Along with showing off live animals, she will discuss zoo conservation projects. "People will see animals up close that you won't be able to see anywhere else."
Frogs in Hawaii
» Giant toad or cane toad: Most people find these in their yards. They were introduced by farmers to control sugar cane beetles.
» American bullfrog: The smooth-skinned frog, found in swampy areas, was introduced to the islands as a food source.
» Green and black poison dart frog: These colorful, miniature frogs were introduced to Manoa Valley to control mosquitoes.
» Wrinkled frog: Found in fast-flowing mountain streams, and are normally seen only by hikers.
» Coqui: These noisy critters are brown tree frogs that lay eggs in moist soil. The babies develop through the tadpole phase while in the egg and are born fully formed.
» Greenhouse frog: Similar to the coqui, with the unique reproductive cycle, but with a cricket-like chirp.
Source: Becky Choquette