The world amphibian crisis and Canada's role

    OTTAWA, Feb. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's 25 accredited zoos and aquariums
are mounting a major national program to ensure the nation's amphibians
survive what could become the greatest extinction crisis since the age of the
    "We must act now or we risk losing the majority of our frogs and
amphibians worldwide" said Dr. John Nightingale, President of the Canadian
Association of Zoos and Aquariums. "The world's zoos and aquariums have
stepped forward and are working together in a concerted international effort,
and I can assure you that Canada's accredited zoos and aquariums are playing
their full part. I urge all Canadians to join with us in this vital work. You
can learn more about the crisis by visiting a CAZA-accredited zoo or aquarium,
and you can help by donating to our conservation fund. "
    Amphibians worldwide are being attacked by a lethal combination of
climate change, pollution, disappearing habitat and overharvesting - but the
most dangerous threat is a killer chytrid fungus originating in South Africa
and spreading rapidly through Asia, Central and South America and now through
the U.S. and into Canada. There is no known cure for the fungus in the wild.
    If unchecked, these threats could kill one third to one half of the
world's 6000 amphibian species within our lifetime. The fungus itself, once
embedded in a population, will kill up to 80 % of a species in a very short
time, leaving the remaining animals below the survival threshold and subject
to complete extinction.
    Zoos and aquariums around the world have banded together to mount a
rescue program for the endangered animals. Measures include both in-situ and
ex-situ programs to restore the natural habitat and stabilize populations,
breeding programs and where necessary creating "assurance" populations of
healthy animals that will be kept in isolated breeding facilities until such
time as they can be reintroduced into a safe natural environment.
    The international program includes an ambitious awareness and education
component during 2008 The Year of the Frog aimed at generating public support
for and involvement in the rescue program. The commitment of the world's zoos
and aquariums is to continue the rescue effort as long as it takes to ensure
the survival of these amazing animals.

    Canada's program

    The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums has developed a nationwide
program to rescue the endangered Canadian amphibians and is working with
established recovery groups as well as taking responsibility for several
endangered international species.
    The Canadian species included in the CAZA program are:

        - The Oregon Spotted Frog
        - The Northern Leopard Frog
        - The Dusky Salamander
        - The Western Chorus Frog

    And these international species:

        - The Puerto Rican Crested Toad
        - Priority species in Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia and Panama (selection of
          the target species is underway with authorities in those

    CAZA and its members are seeking donations from individuals and
organizations to support its research, training and education programs and
will to assist in establishing "assurance" breeding populations in isolation
facilities (using specially designed trailers) at facilities such as Toronto
Zoo and Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario, Mountain View Conservation Centre in B.C.,
Valley Zoo in Edmonton and Calgary Zoo in Alberta. At each of these locations,
the zoos will launch intensive publicity and education programs based on the
special facilities and supporting exhibits and special events. The public will
be able to witness the work in progress to save the endangered frogs and
amphibians, will learn about the crisis and what is being done to avert it,
and about the organizations supporting this vital initiative.

    To learn more about the worldwide amphibian crisis, Canada's program to
combat it, and how you can help by donating or participating, visit
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    CAZA is the national voice of the zoo and aquarium community in Canada.
Representing the 25 leading zoological parks and aquariums in Canada, its
purpose is to promote the welfare of zoo and aquarium wildlife, to advance
related science and conservation, and to foster public engagement in the
preservation of our natural heritage.

For further information:

For further information: Bill Peters, National Director, (613) 567-0099
x 242, Cell (613) 327-9402,

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