Melbourne Zoo’s fight to save Australia’s endangered frogs

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Three threatened frog species have been given a lifeline by a new breeding and research facility at Melbourne Zoo.

The Amphibian Bushfire Recovery Centre fosters breeding habitats for the spotted tree frog, Watson’s tree frog and the southern giant burrowing frog, which all range from being listed as vulnerable to critically endangered.

All three species have been facing population decline in the wild, exacerbated by the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires, and are also threatened by chytrid fungus disease, which is affecting frog populations around the world.

The centre is the first dedicated disease-controlled amphibian facility in Australia.

The program aims to increase understanding about the frogs to improve conservation methods, control threats to the species and ultimately allow for their return to their natural habitat.

Back from the brink

More than 150 Southern Giant Burrowing Frogs, reared from tadpoles at the zoo, have already moved into the facility’s recovery program.

Federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek said the facility would offer a lifeline to Victoria’s rarest frogs.

“In recent years, our frogs have had an extremely tough time, fighting the impacts of disease and the devastating impacts of the Black Summer bushfires,” Ms Plibersek said in a release.

“The State of the Environment Report told us the challenges we are facing are large, but I am committed to protecting Australia’s threatened species.”

She said the federal government had committed $224.5 million to its Saving Native Species Program.

Victorian environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was supporting Zoos Victoria’s 160 years of integral conservation work with its biodiversity investments.

“These new facilities allow the Zoos Victoria’s amphibian team to expand their vital work to help threatened frog species,” she said.

-AAP

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