DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Zoo announced Wednesday that 20 Lake Titicaca frogs had arrived from Peru. The zoo is now the only institution in the northern hemisphere to house the critically endangered species.
The frogs will spend the next three months behind the scenes during a required quarantine period before guests can view them in the Tropical Discovery exhibit.
Staff at the Denver Zoo will study the frogs’ behavior and hope to increase the population numbers in a conservation effort for the species.
The Lake Titicaca frog is the world’s largest aquatic frog and lives only in its namesake lake, which lies 12,500 feet above sea level and straddles the Peruvian and Bolivian border. The frogs can grow up to 20 inches long and weigh more than two pounds.
“Denver Zoo has been working with our Peruvian and Bolivia partners to conserve the Lake Titicaca frogs since 2007 and is excited to bring these individuals to Denver. It has been over 40 years since a Lake Titicaca frog has been in the United States,” said Senior Vice President for Animal Care and Conservation, Brian Aucone.
The frogs that arrived at the zoo hatched as tadpoles in March at the Huachipa Zoo, and come from wild-born frogs that were confiscated by authorities while on their way to a food market.
It is illegal to harvest the endangered frog, but local Peruvians and Bolivians do so for shake-like drinks that are believed to enhance virility. In addition to this, disease, pollution, and invasive species are the main reasons the species is endangered. The population has declined 80% over the last three generations, says the Union for the Conservation of Nature.