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Welcome Back, Hopper: Nearly Extinct 'Mountain Yellow-Legged' Tadpoles Hatch At LA Zoo

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At the brink of extinction, the mountain yellow-legged frog, a once plentiful SoCal critter, has a new hope in population replenishing. The Los Angeles Zoo announced Thursday that it successfully bred over 200 of the rare, native tadpoles to be released into the wild," notes SoCal WIld.

Six female and four male frogs produced hundreds of eggs in March with over two hundred tadpoles hatching in April. It's the first success for the LA Zoo in breeding the mountain yellow-legged frog, and the second time ever these frogs babies have been reproduced in captivity following last year's success at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, notes the LA Zoo press release.

Native to the mid and high mountain streams of southern California, where the water is extremely clean, these frogs face a number of challenges including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, Chytrid fungus and the introduction of foreign species into their environment. Amphibians are very sensitive to minor changes in the environment and tend to be the first affected when something does change. With only two hundred adult frogs remaining in the wild, these tadpoles are important to the survival of the species.

The tadpoles will be monitored by zoo staff and U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and the University of California once reintroduced into the wild.

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Notes SoCal Wild and Ian Recchio, curator of reptiles and amphibians:

With other conservation projects having big price tags (think of the dollars spent on California condors), Recchio says this project is a mere drop in the bucket. The equipment in the frog house probably only amounts to maybe $5,000. Man-power is the only other real cost. “For us, $10,000 will go a long way to help bring this species back from the brink,” he says. “And you gotta start at the ground up when you are talking about protecting our wildlife. That’s where the life cycle starts, right?”

Last month, an environmental group filed an intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over failing efforts to protect the endangered SoCal frog from extinction.