Endangered frog in breeding success

Rare frogs airlifted from a Caribbean island to save them from a rapidly spreading fatal disease have bred for the first time at London Zoo.

The critically endangered mountain chicken frogs were rescued from Montserrat to preserve and develop a healthy population of the amphibian, which was facing extinction from the chytrid fungus.

Frogs have been housed in a bio-secure, temperature-controlled breeding unit at the zoo, where two females have produced 76 young.

The mothers laid eggs in a self-made foam nest and guarded them as they developed into tadpoles, which they then fed every three to five days with unfertilised eggs.

The offspring will be released back into a protected and disease-free area of the wild when they are fully grown.

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) curator of herpetology, Dr Ian Stephen, said: "To say we're delighted by this accomplishment is an understatement to say the least.

"These frogs are one of the most endangered animals on the planet, facing a range of threats from habitat loss to over-hunting and, most notably, the spread of the chytrid fungus.

"To have increased their numbers by 76 individuals is an incredible achievement for ZSL London Zoo and an incredible lifeline for the mountain chicken frog."

In total, 50 frogs were saved from Montserrat after it emerged that amphibians on the island were being killed by the chytrid fungus.

A dozen are being housed in a captive breeding unit at London Zoo, with the remainder split between units at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey and Parken Zoo in Sweden.