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News from the Zoos

Puerto Rican Crested Toad Tadpoles Released Into the Wild

Thousands of Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles raised in U.S. zoos were recently released in Guanaco State Forest, Puerto Rico. The Buffalo, Sedgwick County, Toledo, and Toronto zoos successfully reproduced the toads with the aid of an injected hormone (luteinizing hormone, or LH). The breedings were synchronized among the institutions so the tadpoles would all be approximately the same age. It was critical for the toads to be released while still tadpoles so that they could imprint on their "natal" pond and return to breed as adults.

Once thought to be extinct in the wild, the Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur), was rediscovered in 1967. Its decline is a result of human encroachment, commercial development, and introduction of exotic species such as marine toads and mongooses. No more than 300 animals have been located in the wild in recent years. Approximately 200 are now maintained in AZA-accredited zoos throughout North America.

Two "Zoo Schools" Win National Awards

In October, the Lincoln Public Schools’ "Zoo School" at the Folsom Children’s Zoo, Lincoln, Nebraska, gained national recognition when the school’s team of four teachers was selected for USA Today’s 1999 All-USA Academic Teacher Team. Sixteen individuals and four teams were honored with this award for outstanding teaching practices in our nation’s schools. The Zoo School - officially known as the LPS Science Focus Program - is an alternative high school program located at the Folsom Children’s Zoo and is attended by approximately 65 students from all four Lincoln public high schools. The curriculum is determined by the school system but is taught using zoo-related concepts and resources.

Also in October, the School of Environmental Studies (SES) at the Minnesota Zoo was selected as a New American High School by the U.S Department of Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The New American High Schools initiative showcases schools which are on the leading edge of reform, combining high expectations and a commitment to rigorous academics with innovative instructional techniques, integrated technology, tailored professional development, community service and work-based learning experiences, and community-based partnerships to increase student achievement and performance.

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force Hires Coordinator

The Bushmeat Crisis Task Force (BCTF) has announced the hiring of Heather Eves as the BCTF coordinator. Ms. Eves studied the bushmeat issue in Africa for her doctoral dissertation work at Yale, and is one of the originators of the Sangha River Network – a professional research network for the Sangha River region of Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Republic of Congo.

The BCTF was created after a meeting of 34 experts from 28 organizations and agencies was held in February at the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in Silver Spring, MD. The meeting participants represented zoological parks, major conservation organizations, animal protection groups, and the bio-medical research community. The bushmeat trade is described as the illegal commercial sale of threatened and endangered species for human consumption. Gorillas, chimpanzees and other species of primates, as well as elephants and antelopes, are among the animals killed and sold for their meat in the markets of equatorial Africa.

Poll Finds That Public Underestimates Their Damage to Oceans

A recent poll commissioned by the Ocean Project finds that the American public is largely unaware of their impact on the health of the oceans. The Ocean Project, a consortium of AZA aquariums and zoos, and natural history museums, commissioned the poll to measure the public’s knowledge and attitudes about the ocean. While 92% of those surveyed considered the oceans essential to human survival, only 14% recognized that individuals, rather than industries, posed the biggest threat to ocean survival. The majority of ocean pollution is caused by contaminated runoff from yards, parking lots, and roads, and an estimated 15 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill finds its way into the sea annually from street runoff and individual dumping into municipal storm drains.

Nearly 50 institutions participate in The Ocean Project, whose mission is to build public awareness of the importance, value, and sensitivity of the oceans. As a first step, the project has launched a web site ( to connect people with a wide range of ocean information. Other plans are for development of programs and exhibits at aquariums, zoos, and museums, educational films and materials for teachers, and more.

Information for News From Zoos is provided by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

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