Television presenter Carol Vorderman officially opens Bristol Zoo’s frog sanctuary

Date: 2010/06/08


Called The AmphiPod, the facility is home to two of the world’s most endangered frog species - lemur leaf frogs and golden mantella frogs. Both species are listed as ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.




The AmphiPod provides the perfect conditions to allow the rare frogs to breed, in an effort to help save the species from extinction.


Ms Vorderman supported the Zoo’s ‘Year of the Frog’ campaign in 2008 to help raise awareness about, and prevent, the extinction threat facing thousands of amphibian species all over the world.


Through fundraising efforts as part of the campaign, Bristol Zoo raised enough money to build the AmphiPod to breed endangered amphibians. 


Ms Vorderman, with her mother Jean, officially opened the sanctuary and spoke to Zoo staff to find out about how Bristol Zoo is working to help save high-risk frog species from extinction.


Ms Vorderman said: “I love Bristol Zoo and it does fantastic conservation work, so I am thrilled to be opening the AmphiPod today. To be able to come back to the Zoo and see the AmphiPod up and running is brilliant; it’s a fantastic achievement for the Zoo.”


Carol also read a frog poem to celebrate the occasion, and explained she had brought her mother along to the event in an attempt to conquer her frog phobia. .


Dr Bryan Carroll, deputy director of the Zoo, added: “Our AmphiPod has been built following a lot of hard work, fundraising and fantastic support, and we are immensely grateful for that. This facility will be a vital tool in helping to save high-risk frog species from the danger of extinction – which is currently a very real and near threat.”


The AmphiPod has been built to high tech specifications which allow the keepers to adjust the temperature, humidity and day length to create the perfect conditions to encourage the frogs to breed.


“Our AmphiPod allows us to keep frogs in a safe, isolated environment, away from any threat of disease,” Dr Carroll said. “It also gives our keepers the opportunity to learn the techniques required for the specialist amphibian care we can provide in the AmphiPod. In future we will be able to provide a safe haven to other amphibian species in immediate danger of extinction.”


The extinction crisis is mainly due to man’s destruction of amphibians’ natural habitats, but in a deadly combination with pollution and climate change, they now face an even bigger and deadlier threat – a fungal disease called ‘amphibian Chytrid’ (chytridiomycosis).


This killer fungus is steadily spreading over the world. One third to one half of all amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction, with more than 160 species thought to have been lost in recent years. The threat is so serious that the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has said that the only hope for many species is to be held in captivity until the disease can be tackled in the wild.


As a result, priority amphibian species are being taken into dedicated facilities at zoos, aquariums, and other institutions around the world for safekeeping and breeding.


Dr Carroll added: “Until a solution is found to help stop the fungus in the wild, the safekeeping and captive management of threatened amphibians is the only way to ensure their long-term survival.”


However, the Zoo is still £30,000 short of the target amount which will help pay for the continued cost of running the facility for the next three years. To find out more about how you could help, please contact Lizy Jones on or telephone 0117 974 7329.


For more information about Bristol Zoo Gardens, visit the website at or phone 0117 974 7300.




For press enquiries please contact Bristol Zoo’s press office:

Lucy Parkinson, T: 0117 974 7306, or email:

Vanessa Hollier, T: 0117 974 7309, email:


Notes to the Editor:


The frog species which will live in Bristol Zoo’s AmphiPod:


Lemur leaf frog - Hylomantis lemur

This critically endangered amphibian is only found in a few places in Costa Rica and Panama; and the number of lemur leaf frogs left in the wild is thought to be dangerously low.

The current extinction crisis is mainly due to climate change and man’s destruction of amphibians’ natural habitats, but amphibians across the globe now also face an even bigger and deadlier threat – a fungal disease called ‘amphibian Chytrid’.

This month Bristol Zoo Gardens is opening an amphibian sanctuary within its grounds to breed two frog species on the verge of extinction – the lemur leaf frog and the golden mantella frog. The facility will provide a safe home for the frogs which are critically endangered. Called the ‘AmphiPod’, the facility will provide the perfect conditions to allow the rare frogs to breed, in an effort to help save the species from extinction.


Golden mantella frog - Mantella aurantiaca
Golden mantella frogs are around just 2cm long and are brilliant golden-orange in colour, with black eyes. The bright colours are as a result of 'aposematic coloration'. This means that they display the bright colours usually associated with toxic species to ward off predators.

Golden mantella frogs are critically endangered and are native to the forests of Madagascar, where they live in a fragmented area of forest surrounded by degraded land. The remaining forest is under threat from subsistence agriculture, timber extraction, fires and expanding human settlements. Limits on the exportation of these animals have been imposed and the trade of these frogs has been greatly reduced as a result.  


Bristol Zoo Gardens

·         Bristol Zoo Gardens is an education and conservation charity and relies on the income from visitors to support its work. 

·         Throughout 2010 Bristol Zoo will be running a series of events to highlight the importance of conserving the world’s biodiversity, as part of the international Year of Biodiversity. For more information visit the Zoo website at

·         To find out more about the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity visit the website at

·         Bristol Zoo is open from 9am every day except Christmas Day. 

·         The Zoo is involved with more than 100 co-ordinated breeding programmes for threatened wildlife species. 

·         It employs 140 full and part-time staff to care for the animals and run a successful visitor attraction to support its conservation and education work. 

·         Bristol Zoo Gardens supports – through finance and skill sharing - over 10 projects in the UK and abroad that conserve and protect some of the world’s most endangered species.

·         Bristol Zoo Gardens is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. BIAZA represents more than 90 member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.


The amphibian crisis

·         The 2008 Year of the Frog was a global campaign to raise awareness of the amphibian crisis.

·         Amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.

·         Amphibian species are becoming extinct at a pace never seen before.

·         In 2004, the Global Amphibian Assessment conducted by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) revealed that one-third to one-half of the world’s 6,500 amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction and the only hope for many surviving species is to be taken into captivity

·         Zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens will play a crucial role as part of the immediate response by providing the ex-situ breeding grounds for some threatened species.

·         Frogs play an important role in the ecosystem as both predator and prey, sustaining the delicate balance of nature.

·         They perform invertebrate pest population control, important to successful agricultural efforts around the world and reducing the spread of disease (e.g. malaria).

·         Their skin produces substances that kill microbes and viruses, offering promising medical cures for a variety of illnesses, including HIV.

·         Their skin is highly permeable, allowing contaminants to enter the body more readily, making them an exceptional indicator of environmental quality.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA

T: 0117 9747306




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