Panamanian Golden Frog
Slender, brightly colored frog of about one and a half inches in length. Gold in color with black markings on the back and legs. They crawl rather than hop when they move.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Mountain slopes of the Central Cordilleran rainforests of west-central Panama.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Diurnal. Harlequin males attract females by display more than vocalizing. (Panamanian Golden Frogs communicate with semaphores, a hand waving phenomenon that is continuing to be researched). Females lay a string of 30-70 eggs in a shallow stream. The male clasps the female and releases sperm on to the eggs as they are extruded. Tadpoles are flattened and have an abdominal sucker with which to cling to rocks.
The bright color warns predators of their toxicity; there are potentneurotoxins in the skin secretions. Those of the Atelopus genera are part of the group called harlequin frogs, who with the true toads makeup the family Bufonidae. All members of this family have skin secretions of varying degrees of toxicity.
Pre-Colombian indigenous peoples considered the frog as sacred and crafted talismans in their form. This frog is a now a cultural symbol of the Republic of Panama and its image is found on everything from t-shirts to lottery tickets.
The Panamanian Golden Frogs can be found in the RAD Room in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.
STATUS IN WILD:
Populations are currently threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation, stream toxification from agricultural chemicals, illegal collection for the pet trade and a fungal (chytridiomycosis) outbreak that is destroying many amphibian species in Central America. Project Golden Frog (a collaboration involving zoos, universities and government agencies) has been created to hopefully prevent extinction through population and habitat assessment, captive breeding programs and education initiatives in the range country. Considered Endangered by the USFWS, on Appendix I of CITES , and listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.