If you live in England or are visiting England this summer, you might want to hop over to the Paignton Zoo, which yesterday launched the Amphibian Ark exhibit, The event was hosted by actor and musician Anthony Head (the cool Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
Here’s some info from the zoo’s website (edited):
Amphibian Ark will be home to 14 amphibian species, including the blue poison dart frog, the phantasmal poison dart frog, and the Anderson’s axolotl. Staff have also been working with relatively common species to perfect husbandry routines and protocols before taking on endangered amphibians.
Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, said: “I’m very pleased – the facilities are excellent. We have a large, flexible working space with on and off-show animal care areas, the capacity for high level bio-security and a state-of-the-art water treatment system. The water garden links the exotic amphibians indoors with the idea of domestic garden conservation.”
Out of 6,000 known amphibian species, 50% are threatened or endangered, compared to 10% of mammal species. Amphibians are affected by habitat loss, climate change, pollution, pesticides and the deadly chytrid fungus. Unstoppable and untreatable in the wild, the fungus can kill 80% of amphibians within months. The aim is to protect species from the fungus, possibly by taking animals from the wild and then reintroducing them when it is safe to do so.
It’s hoped that Amphibian Ark will inform and inspire visitors, breed rare species, and become an internationally recognised training facility for herpetologists. Staff have launched two field conservation projects in the last year in Tanzania and Trinidad.
The zoo is close to Torquay (in Devon), which is accessible by train, and from Torquay you can take a bus to Paignton.