Leap Day the Frog Way

The real purpose of leap day may be to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons, but here at the rescue project, we’d like to believe the day is designed to honor our favorite leapers. To celebrate, we’ve put together some fun facts about frog leaping.

Jumping Silverstoneia flotator


  • Not all frogs can leap, or even hop. The desert rain frog (Breviceps macrops) has legs that are too short to hop. Instead, it walks.
  • Male frogs of the genus Pipa are known to defend their territory by jumping at and then wrestling other males.
  • The New Guinea bush frog (Asterophrys turpicola) takes jump attacks one step further: before it jumps at a strange frog, it inflates itself and shows off its blue tongue.
  • Stumpffia tridactyla are normally slow-moving critters, but when they’re startled they can abruptly jump up to 8 inches. That doesn’t sound very far, but these little guys are less than half an inch long!
  • The Fuji tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis) may be the leaping stuntman of the frog world. Each time it leaps, it twists in the air—sometimes even 180 degrees—to throw predators off its trail.
  • The Larut torrent frog (Amolops larutensis) gets its name from a nifty leaping trick: it can jump into a fast-moving stream and back to its usual perch, the underside of a rock, without being affected by the current.
  • Similarly, the parachuting red-eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis saltator) gets its name because it speeds to mating opportunities by jumping from trees with finger-and toe-webbing spread wide.
  • The record for longest jump by an American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) recorded in a scientific paper is a little over 4 feet. But scientists who went to the Calaveras County Fair, which Mark Twain’s short story made famous for frog jumping, found that more than half the competitors bested that record—and one jumped more than 7 feet in one leap!
  • The Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t include any frogs for their leaping ability. But it does track human performance in frog jumping (jumping while holding one’s toes). There are records listed for the longest frog jump and the fastest frog jumping over 10 and 100 meters.

In honor of Leap Day celebration coordination efforts by Amphibian Ark, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project made this video for a frog song written by Alex Culbreth.

Post By Meghan Bartels, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

Elementary Students Help Houston Toads!

Two students from River Oaks Elementary School, Hunter Hensey and Chloe Hunter, were doing a project on endangered species (under the direction of the teacher May Hong) when they serendipitously came across an article about the endangered Houston toad in the Zoo’s December Member Magazine. The students learned from conservation staff at the Zoo that one of the main reasons for the toads decline is habitat loss. These two conservation champions got the supplies to make “seed balls” for landowners that live in the toads’ habitat. These seed balls protect fragile seeds from the elements and being eaten by birds until they can germinate.

You can make your own seedballs for native wild flowers and grasses by watching the following video at the Coastal Prairie Partnership website.









These native grasses provide habitat for a variety of insects which is what the toad needs to survive. Also, when hopping out of the pond, small and fragile baby toads also need grasses to hide in to stay safe from predators and to keep from drying out in the hot sun.

Hunter and Chloe came to the Zoo last Friday to drop off their seed balls and we will be delivering them to the landowners we work with in Austin County.

Please give a big thank you so these thoughtful students for helping their native and endangered wildlife! We are so proud of our young Zoo patrons and conservation ambassadors!

Hunter and Chloe- Conservation Champions!


Where in the World is Jeffery? Week 5!

One of the most important things the Philippine Eagle Foundation does is support local communities near eagle nests.  They not only educate the people about the eagle, but teach modern, sustainable farming techniques to help increase farmer productivity while decreasing further deforestation.  They visit schools to teach the kids about their national bird, and host a Philippine Eagle Festival every year.  Conservation efforts never work without the support of the people living with and around the wild animals, and that’s why approximately $8,000 raised by the Houston Zoo’s fundraising efforts for the Philippine Eagle have gone to PEF’s outreach education programs!  We’re so proud of the help we’ve been able to provide any help we can, and all funds raised during our Birds of Prey Days this May 5th and 6th will go straight to PEF!  So please, mark your calendars and visit us that weekend, meet Jeffery, enter some of our raffles, meet Liberty, our Bald Eagle, and learn about the numerous birds of prey you can find in Texas!

Now, on to the contest!


One of the national symbols of this country, a stone carving of a bird, most likely represents a Bateleur Eagle.  What country is Jeffery in?

Where am I?


Don’t forget to add a caption for a chance at an extra 8 points!

Aurora's Turning One!


Join the Houston Zoo on Saturday, March 3 as we celebrate Aurora’s first birthday!

On Saturday, March 3 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. the Houston Zoo will be celebrating orangutan Aurora’s birthday at her home in Wortham World of Primates. Enjoy crafts and singing, watch Aurora eat her birthday cake, sign a giant birthday card just for her, and learn about orangutan conservation. You’ll also hear from those who know Aurora best – our Primate Staff will conduct special Meet the Keeper Talks every 30 minutes to share stories about Aurora and her development throughout this past year.

Schedule of Events:

9 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Crafts and conservation information available

9:30 a.m. – Aurora gets her birthday cake and meet the Keeper Talks begin, and are every 30 minutes

1:30 p.m. – Sing Happy Birthday to Aurora; last orangutan Meet the Keeper Talk of the day


Want to give Aurora a birthday gift? The Primate Staff have provided a list of items that Aurora and the other orangutans would love to have for enrichment.


Here is her birthday wishlist:

  • Fabric – sheets, pillowcases, and blankets
  • Plastic buckets
  • Basketballs, soccer balls, and beach balls
  • Spices and herbs – cinnamon, basil, parsley, and dill weed
  • Chalk (non-toxic)
  • Latex rubber tubing (available from McMaster-Carr)

*If you are bringing a present, please be sure that it is in its original wrapping.


You can also purchase enrichment presents from our Primate Registry.

All activities are included in the regular Zoo admission and are FREE for Zoo Members!

Come help us celebrate!


Jeffery the Traveling Puppet: Week 4 Standings!

“Tropical climate, lots of trees, lots of food, no hunters, maybe THIS sanctuary is the place for us!”

It seems that our tireless puppet has been exploring his home state of Texas, making it all the way to the border to visit the Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville!

Thank you to everyone who played!  The competition is still very close:

Tess gained 5 points for her answer, with an added 8 points for her caption, giving her a grand total of 40 points.  That allowed her to JUST squeak by Melissa who came in first last week, and has a total of 35 points.  We didn’t hear from Paul last week, but we did hear from Carmen, who is now tied with Paul for third place, both with 17 points.  Linda is catching up!  She earned 7 points this week, and has a total of 11 points!

Tess’ caption was chosen, because it highlights one of the biggest problems facing the Philippine Eagle–negative interactions with humans.  Many Philippine Eagles are shot in the wild. Check out this video, provided by our friends at Jeepney Projects Worldwide, of an eagle brought into the Foundation with a gunshot wound.  The Philippine Eagle Foundation not only rescues these injured eagles, but they travel into the habitat of the remaining eagles and teach the surrounding communites about this magnificent animal. The money raised by the Houston Zoo during our Birds of Prey Days event will go to support this community outreach and education program.

We’ll see you with another photo challenge on Monday morning at 10 AM.

Get more Jeffery updates on Facebook and follow him on Twitter!


Where in the World is Jeffery? Week 4!

This year the Philippine Eagle Foundation celebrates their 25th annivesary!  Go visit them  and say thanks for saving the world’s coolest eagle! 


Ready for this week’s installment of our traveling Philippine Eagle puppet contest?  Don’t forget to add a caption for a shot at the extra 8 points!


Owned by The National Audubon Society, this special place boasts the last remaining large stand of native sabal palms in the nation; and is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Texas.


Now where am I?

Remember last Friday I revealed those adorable birds as part of the contest prize?  Well, try this on for cute:



First Ever "Crowd Curated Exhibit"!

I have been busy contacting species coordinators to see if any of our top choices for monkey species are available. The news is good! I’ve talked to the coordinators for titi monkeys, emperor tamarins and Goeldi’s monkeys (callimico). There is a high likelihood that we could obtain any of these species. Emperor tamarins and Goeldi’s monkeys can both co-exist with titi monkeys, although probably not with each other so keep that in mind.

Endearing titi monkeys
Curious Goeldi's monkey
Fascinating Emperor tamarins

For a ground dwelling species, since we unfortunately cannot obtain pudu, our two options are agouti which seem to be fairly readily available or a tortoise species.

Cute agouti at the Hogle Zoo.
Red footed tortoises from South America can have quite unique personalities.










So check out the pictures, think about your final vote for animals in your exhibit and leave your votes in the comments section.  Then it will be time to start acquiring animals!

Once we know exactly what animals we’re getting we can start prepping the exhibit.  If you have been following this blog since the begining, you may remember I mentioned a contest along the way.  Stay tuned in the next week or two for a fun chance to come out to the zoo and help get your exhibit ready!

A Puppet in Florence, a Renaissance Story! Week 3 Rankings!

“Which way to the Boboli Gardens? My Italian sweetheart is waiting on the statue of Neptune!”

This competition is really heating up!  You were all correct, Jeffery did indeed make it to Florence, Italy.

As we recently celebrated Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be fitting to tell you that humans can learn quite a bit about relationships from the Philippine Eagle!  Check out this article, written by staff at the Philippine Eagle Foundation about how these magnificent birds pair up, court, and care for their young!

Also, as a little added incentive, I thought I’d show you another one of the prizes that will be included:

A flock of these colorful eco-friendly birds (they’re stuffed with plastic bags) will be included in the winner’s prize basket!

Now, on to the rankings!  Last week the standings were: Tess with 20 pointsMelissa  with 15 points

Paul with 12 points

Wendy with 8 points

Carmen with 7 points

Linda  with 2 points

After week 3 in Florence, the standings are:

Tess with 27 points total

Melissa with 25 points total

Paul with 17 points total

Carmen earned 8 points for her caption and now has a total of 15 points

Linda with 4 points total

Liz Turner came in at the wire, but didn’t get on the board this week.  We hope to see you next week, Liz!

Once again, choosing the caption was really tough!  I loved Tess’ caption, because we really do need a rebirth of the Philippine Eagle species, and speaking of art and eagles, have you checked out our friends at Jeepney Projects Worldwide???

Ultimately, we had to choose Carmen’s romantic entry, during this week of St. Valentine’s Day!

The next photo will go up at 10 AM Central this Monday, February 20th.  We haven’t even scratched the surface of Jeffery’s adventures yet!

Get more Jeffery updates on Facebook and follow him on Twitter!

Where in the World is Jeffery? Week 3!

This city, a giant of history, was originally named Fluentia because it was built between two rivers.

Don't forget to submit a caption for 8 points!


I can’t wait to see your answers and captions!


 Get more Jeffery updates on Facebook and follow him on Twitter!

Patty & Willie, A Love Story

          Patty and Willie are a pair of our Andean or “Spectacled” bears that have cohabitated in the bear exhibit here at the Houston Zoo for 25 years. Spectacled bears are the only bears found on the continent of South America and are named for the facial markings that sometimes resemble spectacles. During their years together Patty and Willie have had two sets of cubs. One set was born on Valentine’s Day in 1993! The kids now live at other zoos as part of the Houston Zoo’s participation in cooperative captive management.


Now in their twilight years, the chance of more cubs has passed for Patty and Willie but as long time companions they do not like to be separated from each other for too long. Although Patty occasionally needs some alone time, which she orchestrates by going into the moat where Willie typically doesn’t go, they can often be seen snoozing together. Patty makes wonderful fluffy nests which Willie promptly plops down in. Patty then proceeds to make an even bigger and fluffier nest for herself! It seems to be a system that works for them.




Come by the Andean bear exhibit over Valentine’s Day and congratulate Patty and Willie on 25 blissful years!




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