More Than 11,000 Endangered Puerto Rican Crested Toad Toadlets Released

June 14, 2018

More than 11,000 critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur) toadlets have made the journey from Detroit, MI to Puerto Rico where they were released in an effort to bolster the amphibian's wild populations. 

Puerto Rican crested toad toadlets


Staff at the Detroit Zoo captive-bred the more than 11,000 Puerto Rican crested toad toadlets that were released onto the island.

Staff at the Detroit Zoological Society spent more than half a day (12+ hours) counting the tadpoles and packing them for their journey to the U.S. territory.

The captive-bred tadpoles, 11,226 in total, will be released in the El Tallonal biological reserve, joining more than 52,000 tadpoles that were born in Detroit and released in Puerto Rico over the course of the last 10 years, according to a press release put out by the Detroit Zoo. The Detroit Zoo’s National Amphibian Conservation Center has kept 15 of the tadpoles for future breeding efforts.

Puerto Rican crested toad


The Puerto Rican crested toad is critically endangered.

“With nearly half of the world’s known 7,878 amphibian species threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, infectious diseases and other factors, bolstering the population of these toads in their natural environment is extremely gratifying and a real win for conservation,” Dr. Ruth Marcec, director of the National Amphibian Conservation Center said in the statement.

“As the tadpoles develop and grow, they will add to the wild population and, one day, hopefully, produce many more thousands of tadpoles,” Marcec said.

The Puerto Rican crested toad is critically endangered in Puerto Rico. It is greenish brown in coloration with marbled colored eyes. It grows to 3-4 inches in length and has the capability to flatten itself so it can squeeze into tight spaces.

 The population of the toads went virtually extinct in the 1920s with the introduction of the cane toad (Rhinella marina), which was brought to the island in a misguided effort to fight the cane beetle. They were thought to have gone extinct in the 1980s but were recently rediscovered. 

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