Phoenix Zoo Chiricahua Leopard Frog Conservation Efforts

As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and in cooperation with Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Phoenix Zoo has been involved in local, regional and international efforts to save and protect numerous wildlife species, including the amphibian population. Because of high mortality rates in the wild of Chiricahua leopard frog eggs, and small tadpoles, captive head-starting provides a greater chance of survival for late-stage tadpoles or small frogs. In the wild, approximately five percent or less of the eggs in a mass survives to metamorphosis. In captivity, more than 90 percent of an egg mass survives to be released as froglets or late-stage tadpoles. By releasing a large number of animals back into a site, chances are greatly increased that more will survive to adulthood and reproduce, as well as preserving valuable genes.

The Phoenix Zoo Head-Start Program

The Zoo’s head-start program, dedicated to raising native frogs for release to supplement wild populations, is housed in The Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Conservation Center. At the Johnson Center, you have the ability to see the leopard frog colonies and our staff as they work with them.

Our “head-start planning cycle” begins prior to the start of the field season. At that time, priorities for the specific populations to be reared are made. Once the breeding season begins, volunteers and state and federal biologists monitor donor sites for breeding and spawning activity. Once an egg mass is found, the Zoo is notified and we prepare for its arrival. Whole or partial egg masses are transported to the Zoo where they are set up in a tank to hatch. The tadpoles are then raised by Zoo staff until they become large tadpoles or small metamorphs, at which time they are released back into the wild.

Ways You Can Help the Chiricahua Leopard Frog

  • Help preserve wetland habitat for amphibians by reducing your water usage. Turning off the water while you brush your teeth saves thousands of gallons yearly. Think of other ways to conserve!
  • Participate in habitat improvement projects as a volunteer with the AGFD. Click Here
  • Learn about what it takes for amphibians to survive in their habitat.