Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Knowing this day would come didn’t make it any easier.


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The last known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog has passed away in the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s frogPOD, where he has lived since 2008. He was collected as part of the Panamanian frog rescue mission in 2005, set forth by ABG and Zoo Atlanta to save frogs being decimated by chytrid fungus. I had the honor of working with him for almost 7 years, and in that time his sad story of being the very last of his kind had, in a powerfully sad way, made him an ‘ambassador' for amphibian conservation and awareness. Almost 40% of the world’s amphibian populations are documented as in decline, or already extinct. That means that this frog - who my son nicknamed ‘Toughie’ when he was 2 years old - is unfortunately not entirely unique in his situation. There are other species out there, blinking out before we even have a chance to recognize what was happening, let alone reverse it.

Amphibians are disappearing and their declines are telling us something we need to pay attention to. It’s going to take all of us to make a difference for the amphibians, and ultimately, for us too.

Some facts about Toughie: 
He was collected as an adult in 2005, so he was at least 12 years old at the time he passed away.
His actual age is unknown.
His genetic material was collected after death.
His genus, Ecnomiohyla, is a group of neotropical gliding frogs. Expanded toe webbing and lateral skin enables them to glide from one tree to the next.
His specific name, rabborum, refers to the fact that he was named by Joe Mendelson after dedicated amphibian conservationists — George and Mary Rabb.
He was featured in National Geographic by Joel Sartore, The Huffington Post by Leilani Münter, #RacingExtinction and #ProjectingChange by Louis Psihoyos and OPS. For the Projecting Change movement, Joel Sartore's image of him was projected on the Vatican while his vocalization played for over a million people.

His call was recorded for the first time in 2014 and can be heard here: https://youtu.be/Mz2Ir2_O-cQ