Endangered frogs raised at Aquarium of the Pacific are released into the wild

Critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs who were raised and cared for at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific are being released back into their habitat in the Southern California mountains to help rebuild their populations, the aquarium announced today.

“The Aquarium’s amphibian team have taken special care of these frogs over the past year, and we are very gratified to have had a hand in helping this local endangered species,” said Brett Long, the aquarium’s curator of mammals and birds.

Mountain yellow-legged frogs that were raised and cared for at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific are held in a container before being released back into their habitat in the Southern California mountains. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

After the Bobcat Fire in 2020 that threatened the cold-water streams where the species lives, government wildlife agencies rescued the remaining mountain yellow-legged frogs and tadpoles from these areas and placed them with local institutions such as the Aquarium of the Pacific and other partner facilities.

The aquarium has been caring for and raising around 125 wild tadpoles hatched in April 2020 and about 150 that were hatched in 2021 at the Los Angeles Zoo, one of the other facilities in the partnership.

Mountain yellow-legged froglets that were raised and cared for at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific are released back into their habitat in the Southern California mountains. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

Officials said previous wild releases showed that the frogs were most successful when released as froglets who had metamorphosed out of the tadpole stage. The aquarium’s tadpoles began to metamorphose into froglets in the spring and summer of 2022, making them good candidates for release.

Several organizations have helped in the effort. Scientists and officials from the U.S. Geological Survey and California Department of Fish and Wildlife monitor wild populations and oversee releases, and the release site was approved by California State Parks.

Mountain yellow-legged frogs are native to California’s mountainous regions and depend on habitats in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains. Members of the public can support the conservation effort by staying on marked trails and paths and respecting signs announcing off-limits areas when visiting local mountains.

U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Adam Backlin releases mountain yellow-legged frogs, which were raised and cared for at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, back into their habitat in the Southern California mountains. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

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