/ Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Feb.28, 2012 -At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests will be celebrating Leap Day in a different kind of way this year by leaping into action to learn more about frogs, salamanders and toads.

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch on Feb. 29, animal experts have planned a series of activities to promote conservation and raise awareness of the dangers facing amphibian populations.  Activities include a frog-leap (not a leap frog) that challenges children to see if they can jump as far as frogs, a special frog-calling game where Guests match the frog to the corresponding “ribbit” and opportunities to observe some interesting frogs and talk with their keepers.

Frogs and amphibians play an essential role in the ecosystems of the world and are keenly attuned to changes in the environment.  Because of that, scientists and researchers consider them an “indicator” species, meaning they can provide early warning for endangered ecosystems.

One example is the critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad, which is being studied by animal care team members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Nutrition experts are hoping to find alternate habitat where food is abundant for them.

“By doing these activities, we hope to engage guests in conservation efforts to help them protect more frogs and amphibians in their hometowns,” according to Kathy Lehnhardt, curator of education at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Other things that families can do at home include:

  • Building a pond with native shrubs, or provide an overturned pot, small areas of leaf litter, logs and dirt piles to benefit amphibians.
  • Getting an amphibian field guide to learn which amphibians live in an area.
  • Finding books on frogs to discover why they sing loudly, hear well and stay up late.
  • Visiting a local pond or nature park listening for the calls of different frog species.
  • Using fewer chemical pesticides to keep amphibians healthy.
  • Observing the variety and behaviors of frogs by just looking.
  • Remembering that the chemicals from soaps and lotions can harm their skin if they’re touched.

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