Biologists are scrambling to find a way to save frogs from an aggressive fungus that is wiping them out across the planet.
Frogs in the western United States are threatened. Australia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean have been especially hard hit.
Panama is suffering a catastrophic decline. In tropical forests where there was once a cacophony of frog song, there is now silence. Scientists have been looking for survivors to bring them back to a lab and try and breed them in captivity where they can be protected from the fungus.
Scientists estimate that as much as two-thirds of all frog species in Latin America are at risk of extinction.
At the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in Panama, biologists have set up small fish tanks with cloud machines, humidifiers and showerheads to mimic rain.
A staff of three works 24/7 monitoring the frogs and adjusting their environment to get them to breed. The hope is to breed 400 to 500 frogs before trying to return them to the wild.
“We basically have to become really good frog farmers and breed a lot of frogs, ” Brian Gratwicke, project coordinator for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project at the Smithsonian, told the News.
“But the last thing we want to do is release these precious, expensive frogs back into wild, just to see them consumed by the fungus all over again.”