The Los Angeles Zoo has released about 170 endangered frogs into their natural habitat in the San Gabriel Mountains, as part of ongoing conservation efforts for the species.
The release of the southern mountain yellow-legged frogs on August 29-30 capped off a characteristic breeding process at the zoo, where the eggs of this rare amphibian are pampered and hatched.
The frogs get their name in part from their habitat — where they thrived for centuries before populations declined in a handful of places — in perennial streams in California’s San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and San Bernardino mountain ranges. from South. The name also derives from the light yellow or orange coloring of their bellies, hind legs, and sometimes their front legs.
The release of the frogs, scientifically known as Rana muscosa, was done in conjunction with the US Geological Survey.
“This release is momentous for the Los Angeles Zoo as it marks another key milestone for our southern mountain yellow-legged frog breeding program,” said Ian Recchio, the zoo’s curator of reptiles and amphibians. in a press release. “We hope Angelenos see this effort in their own backyards and think about what actions they can take to help conserve wildlife.”
The species has been officially listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Organized conservation efforts began in 2006 and have since resulted in periodic reintroductions of captive-bred frogs. This release is part of a long-term project to create 25 populations of a few hundred to a thousand frogs each.
Captive breeding begins with eggs hatched in a special amphibian breeding room at the Los Angeles Zoo. The room is temperature controlled and has survival equipment to create optimal living conditions for the frogs.
The tadpoles are then raised to adulthood at facilities at the Santa Ana Zoo in Orange County and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. About 30 of the recently released frogs weren’t reared from birth, but were rescued in the 2020 Bobcat fire and cared for by Aquarium of the Pacific staff.
Southern mountain yellow-legged frogs range from 1.5 to 3.25 inches long. As adults, frogs are usually brown and yellow, although some develop gray, red, or greenish-brown hues. The animals are on display from May through November as part of the Los Angeles Zoo’s Reptile, Amphibian and Invertebrate Exhibit.
Times editor Louis Sahagún contributed to this report.