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Newsmaker: Frog Hotel

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2008

Bill Konstant is Director of Conservation and Science at the Houston Zoo. For more than 25 years, Bill has worked for zoos and international conservation organizations, developing projects that are designed to safeguard the future for endangered species here in the United States, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia.

With the support of many U.S. zoos and aquariums, the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center is a special facility that was built in Panama to help save the critically endangered golden frog and other tropical rainforest species that are threatened by an epidemic fungus. More than 500 frogs, toads, and salamanders are maintained at EVACC by the husband-and-wife team of Edgardo Griffith and Heidi Ross.

The Hotel Campestre, a small country inn located in the crater of an extinct volcano, became part of this international rescue mission when the killer fungus struck before the conservation center could be completed. The hotel provided four rooms in which amphibians could be treated, quarantined, and cared for until EVACC was finished. As a result, it has become known as the Frog Hotel.

The Chytrid fungus is the only one of its kind in the world known to infect and kill amphibians. It invades and thickens their skin, making it difficult for susceptible species to take in oxygen and water. As a result, infected animals essentially dehydrate, suffocate, and die. Amphibian populations throughout the world are disappearing as a result of this disease. In some cases, entire species have even gone extinct.

Three Species Featured on the Show
Golden Frog
Blue Poison Dart Frog
Tomato Frog

Want to Help?
For more information on amphibians, please visit houstonzoo.org and amphibiaweb.org. If you would like to become involved closer to home, visit the website of your local zoo or aquarium to learn about its amphibian conservation projects. Or, you can log on to yearofthefrog.org and find out what can be done in your own backyard to help frogs and toads.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to The Maryland Zoo for providing the frogs featured on the show.