The Threats Facing Amphibians

Written by Chris Bednarski

Panamanian Golden Frog-0001Amphibians all over the world are affected by several factors causing alarming declines in populations. The most concerning issue currently is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis more commonly known as chytrid or Bd. Bd is an aquatic epizootic(an epidemic of a disease event in nonhuman animals) fungus which causes a disease known as chytridiomycosis. This fungus attaches itself to the skin of an amphibian restricting proper intake of oxygen and osmoregulation, which are two very important duties of amphibian skin. In 1998 the first case of chytrid was documented in Australia, and then in 2004 Dr. Karen Lips documented chytrid in Central America. Dr. Lips noted that populations decline very rapidly, sometimes over just a few weeks! This fungus occurs on every continent where amphibians occur and has caused catastrophic declines or extinctions of almost 200 species of amphibians, even in pristine habitat in just about 30 years.

A species which you may see on exhibit in the Reptile and Amphibian House, the Panamanian Golden Frog, is now a functionally extinct species in its native range. This is due primarily to the chytrid fungus. This fungus much like every other living organism has a “breeding season”, if temperatures are too hot or too cold it lies dormant, but when the temperatures are just right like where the Panamanian Golden Frogs live the fungus multiplies and spreads non-stop. This doesn’t allow for amphibian populations to “hop” back and therefore wipes out an entire species in some cases, in less than a year. Several theories of where this fungus originated, how it has spread so rapidly, and how to control it have been discussed but to date no solid answers have been found.

Other factors, which include pollution of soil and waterways due to pesticides used on lawns and gardens and the improper disposal of batteries, habitat loss for palm oil plantations, paper manufacturing or even wooden chop sticks, global warming, and over collection for the food and pet trade, also play a significant role in amphibian declines worldwide. Many scientists, researchers and biologists agree that amphibians may be the next mass extinction since the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.



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Take a look at our beautiful new elephant habitat that DOUBLES the existing elephant complex. It's open now, so come watch our elephants play, splash, and swim. You've gotta see this! ... See MoreSee Less

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That is great! I can't wait to come see it. Are there any plans to expand the giraffe exhibit ever? I feel like it's very small compared to all of the other really awesome exhibits for the big animals.

I feel like I've never seen grass in a zoo elephant habitat before- I bet they're hard on it! The whole exhibit looks incredible- especially the deep water! Amazing design; hope I can get to Houston one day to see it!

I took some of my daycare kiddos yesterday specifically to see the new space. They had it blocked off and wouldn't let anyone pass through the elephant area through to the hoofed animals. We were really sad we didn't get to see it.

Keep wild animals captive for the human entertainment. - Are we not better then that yet?? Shameful😢😢😢 And don't try to use that word 'conservation' - critical thinkers are smarter than that.

Yes THANK YOU for providing a more natural. Habitat for the elephant's. They need SPACE to roam. N the water added is awesome....they really needed that!

Waiting for some stupid kid to jump in and ruin it for the elephants.

Why have so many elephants babies died at your zoo ? it is because they are not meant to live in Captivity. Please set them free and stop breeding elephants for monetary value.

Not fond of most zoos, but at least these elephants are safe from killers like the Trump sons.

Jenny Carlisle I see a great excuse for Kimber to come visit besides to see her cousins!!

John and JoAnn we need to take Grant again. He will be so excited to see this!

So happy to see the Zoos continued support of the amazing Elephant Program

Karl Schuhknecht Let's go again when you get home! We can never go too much, right?

Sergey!! We have to go!! Definitely bringing mama Nina too 🙂🐘

Thank you providing a beautiful setting for their physical and mental health!

Remember it was under construction when we were there Nicky Lichtl

Molly Pesl it's time for us to go on a rainy day.... 😎👍🏼

Eddie - we gotta go soon so Adrian can see his favorite animal splish-solash

Dang! That is awesome! Why didn't you tell me it was this pretty Kristin!? 😜

JoAnn, looks like we're taking Thomas to the zoo soon! 😍

Lesli Gietz James Gietz Grant going to love see this 💙 🐘

Nichole, I think a trip to the zoo is in our future!!

Does Tye get to play as well? Thought one of the elephants was in his on enclosure

Allison Jones I want to go see the elephants in the pool!

Awsome! Just in time for the hot summer ahead...#splish & #splash

Love elephants. Such quiet, gentle, strong and wise creatures.

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Houston Zoo was live.
Houston Zoo

We are live from our HUGE new elephant habitat expansion. This incredible new area opens tomorrow! ... See MoreSee Less

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Do the Asian and African elephants coexist well?

how would you save a elephant if they had difficult swimming?

Is there opportunities for the public to get up close to see the elephants behind the scenes?

Do you offer any type of feeding or event like you have with the giraffes? Or sticking with the bath time?

Can they climb up on that ledge or is that just to keep them back from the fence

Will males and females be always separated now?

Do the elephants hug and let you get kisses?

When do the trainers talk this summer?

Will the females get to share the yard too?

How/where will males and females interact?

How much did this cost the taxpayers of Houston???

What is the depth of the pool?

About how long can they hold breath

Is there a web cam at the new yard?

How can you tell who is Tucker and who is Baylor

Are the elephants on display today?

How many elephants are there?

When is it open to public?

How deep is the pool

Still want to know why only the males are getting to use the new area.

I know they had said this habitat is for the males, does that mean the males and females will always be separated from now on

Gross question, but I'm curious... Do elephants defecate under water & is maintenance similar to a home pool?

@Cheree Neil It is to do with habits. Elephants when lacking enrichment complete stereotypical behaviours as they're known and swaying is one of them. It essentially is a display of boredom.

Kelsey Patterson - we are going to get to the zoo before you pop! Even if i have to push you around in one of those sea lion carts! LOL!

Ian, we love you and are so proud of you. Thank you for being our son.

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