Nature

Rare Scrotum Frogs On The Edge Of Extinction Go On Display At UK Zoo

The Lake Titicaca frog ‘scrotum frog’

An endangered frog from South America with a rather unfortunate nickname has gone on display at Chester Zoo for the first time.

The Lake Titicaca frog, named after the lake its naturally found in which straddles the border of Bolivia and Peru at around 12,500 feet above sea level, is the world’s largest aquatic frog.

The frog spends most its life at the bottom of the lake, absorbing oxygen from the water using its saggy folds of excessive skin a trait that has seen it labelled the ‘scrotum frog’.

Twenty of the rare amphibians are now being cared for at Chester Zoo, where experts are studying their behaviour to try to gather new insights as part of the latest conservation efforts for the species.

The zoo was the first in Europe to give a home to the species and has now established a European population by sending 130 other frogs to 13 other leading, progressive zoos around the continent to help prevent total extinction of the frog.

A combination of pollution, habitat loss and hunting has devastated the frog’s wild population. They are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with between 50% – 80% estimated as having been lost from Lake Titicaca in the last 20 years alone.

In response, nearby researchers set up a rescue centre and began attempts to breed the frogs, before seeking assistance from conservationists at Denver Zoo in America and now, Chester Zoo in the UK. Meanwhile, Chester Zoo has also formed an alliance with the Cayetano Heredia University in Peru and the Natural History Museum’s Alcide d’Orbigny in Bolivia in a ground-breaking union which is fighting to save the Lake Titicaca frog from extinction.

The two South American institutions are part of a binational action plan for the conservation of the species, the first time the two countries have come together to attempt to protect the frogs.

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