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Panama’s golden frog, Atelopus zeteki, is considered by many as an icon or one of the most representative animals in the country, seen as a natural and cultural emblem of Panama.
In Panama, populations of amphibians, including the golden frog, have suffered significant declines, largely due to infection caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, known as “amphibian chytrid fungus”, although other factors have also influenced the loss of habitat, such as deforestation, pollution of their water sources, collection for sale as pets and drought.
The Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, Panama, orchestrated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) with the support of several international zoos, focuses its effort on the establishment of colonies of amphibians and the development of methodologies to protect them from the impact of the “chytrid fungus” for the purpose of reintroducing these amphibians back to their natural habitat.
This project has two centers, one of them is the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) located in El Valle de Anton. The exhibition is open from Wednesday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is located within the El Nispero Zoo. Although admission to the exhibition is free, visitors must pay the entrance to the zoo for only $3.
The second one is the Center for Research and Conservation of Amphibians, Gamboa (ARCC), and they also have a display of frogs, and facilities dedicated to research around the “chytrid fungus”. Additionally, the STRI has an exhibition titled “The Fabulous Frogs of Panama” in Punta Culebra Nature Center on the Amador Causeway.
The centers also host other species closely related to the Golden Frog, belonging to the same genus as well as other species from the dart frog family, which also have bright colors, and marsupial frogs. All of these species are under study for preservation.
The main intention of this project is to free individual frogs to repopulate areas previously inhabited. For now they are still in the preparation stage, conducting conservation and preliminary plans for the release of certain species.
Currently, no populations of Atelopus zeteki are known in the wild, as their populations have disappeared. Despite this, it is advisable to maintain strict caution when visiting forests and streams and keep them free of contamination, so that in the future these amphibians can return.
For more information on this project, exhibitions and how to collaborate with conservation effords visit www.AmphibianRescue.org