Kiss a frog and find a prince.
With scientists estimating that from one-third to one-half of more than 6,000 species of amphibians around the world are in danger of extinction, Iowa zoo officials are worried that kissing a frog good-bye might be more of a possibility.
That's why this year - a leap year - of course - has been designated as "Year of the Frog" by global conservation organizations.
To raise awareness, the Blank Park Zoo is joining the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to spread the word. The Zoo will be hosting a kick-off event on leap day, Feb. 29 called "Date and Mate". Couples will enjoy a special "mating" evening as they listen to Dr. Jeff Parmelee, Professor of Biology from Simpson College, give a lecture on some unique mating habits of amphibians In addition, guests will have the opportunity to ask the Blank Park Zookeepers questions on mating habits of the Zoo's frogs and other animals.
Some of the species Iowa's Zoo will be exhibiting in 2008 to educate Iowans on endangered amphibians are the Panamanian Golden Frog and Poison Dart Frogs.
"Frogs are really good indicators of what's going on in the environment around us," says Kevin Drees, BPZ's Director of Animal Care and Conservation. "Since they take in water directly through their delicate skin, they're acutely sensitive to water quality."
So frogs can be seen as an early warning system. Keepers have found the famous "Toad A", a five pound plus stuffed toad that made the Guinness Book of World Records. It will be on display in the zoo's entrance this spring.