Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hopping into Hibernation for a Spring Fling

It is that time of year again at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory where our collection of critically endangered Wyoming Toads go into an artificial Hibernation for the season.   Four pairs of adults toads get to slumber in a mixture of sand and mulch in a state of the art Hibernaculum in a bio-secure behind the scenes room of Como Zoo. These eight toads will be hibernated for approximately 50 days in a gradually cooled state to help simulate natural pre-breeding conditions. Once the toads are awoken from hibernation by gradually increasing the temperature, they will be introduced in pairs to breed for the season. If successful, each individual pair can lay up to 7,000 eggs at one time. These eggs, eventually hatching into tadpoles, will be shipped out to Laramie , Wyoming and back into the wild! This is just one of the amazing Conservation Projects Como Park Zoo and Conservatory are involved with annually.

Since  2010, Como Zoo  has participated in the  Wyoming Toad Recovery Program and Annual Species Survival Plan Meeting and field work. I not only pair the toads for breeding in-house for Como Zoo; but also travel to  Laramie, WY annually. I assist with field surveys of the reintroduction of the Wyoming Toad at multiple sites at Mortenson Lake and surrounding lakes. Data secured will assist program leaders in gauging the success or failure of current practices allowing them to make adjustment to the program as needed. This annual surveying of this site and is a continuation of the efforts to establish a self-sustaining wild population of Bufo baxteri in North America. Como Zoo has released over 8,700 tadpoles and toadlets at these safe harbors since 2010.

-Zookeeper Bree

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