Why Amphibians?

In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conducted the Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA), which evaluated the status of 6,285 amphibian species. The GAA reported that the sizes of more than 43% of all measured amphibian populations had declined and less than 1% of populations had increased, indicating a troubling trend.

Almost one-third (32%) of amphibians are threatened with extinction globally and 159 amphibian species may have already been lost. The majority of threatened amphibians reside in the New World, with the highest numbers in Columbia, Mexico and Ecuador. Nevertheless, the bulk of endemic species in rapid decline (80-90%) are from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica (IUCN, 2014).

The IUCN, World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA), Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), the Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) have called on zoos and aquariums to join in the global response to this conservation crisis. Recognizing that the size of the problem far outpaces our ability to respond with in situ programs, captive assurance populations have been recognized as the only hope for survival for many amphibian species. The Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) was published in response to the 2005 Amphibian Conservation Summit in Washington, D.C. It is a comprehensive global response to amphibian population declines, of which ex situ captive breeding is one component.