Stopping the Amphibian Apocalypse
Stopping the Amphibian Apocalypse
Many of the world’s most beloved frogs and amphibians are headed for extinction, but inside “The Ark” in Panama, some of those threatened species are given a fighting chance.

Using innovative technology and breakthrough genetics, researchers have ignited a cadre of solutions to save these rare and cherished species. 

The Ark at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama houses hundreds of large, captive communities of frogs, some of which no longer exist in the wild. Here, scientists hope to bring these species back from the brink of extinction and solve the world’s worst wildlife pandemic: an amphibian-killing fungus known as chytrid. 

In a quarantined lab, these biologists bathe frogs in fungicide and hope to spark a viable immune response from the captive animals. Meanwhile, in the field, other researchers use artificial intelligence to listen to frog songs and identify so-called “lost frogs” that survive chytrid in the wild — any of which may hold the key to fighting the disease.

Safeguarding a future for frogs isn't easy, but these tactics in Panama have been so successful that they’re being replicated in facilities across the globe. The effort may seem monumental, but the safety and preservation of amphibians worldwide hangs in the balance.


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