Here's how a MN zoo is trying to help one of the world's rarest amphibians


13 hundred tadpoles took a one-way flight to Wyoming.

That's it, there's no punch line.

Because it really happened. Como Zoo in St. Paul is one of the places where biologists are trying to save a type of toad that was once thought to be extinct.

In a behind-the-scenes part of the zoo they're breeding the Wyoming Toad. After the eggs are laid in May and June, the tadpoles hatch and are put in oxygenated water for overnight delivery to their native state where they're turned loose, the zoo says.

What's a Wyoming Toad?

We think you can guess where these toads live. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says they were common on the plains around Laramie, Wyoming, until the mid-1970s when the population crashed.

They went onto the endangered species list in 1984 but within a few years scientists thought they were all gone, Como Zoo says.

But then a group of 10 surviving Wyoming Toads was found near Mortenson Lake. Now nine zoos around the country are part of a species


survival plan for the toads – breeding them in captivity and releasing the tadpoles in Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge. (The refuge is now closed to the public to try to improve the toad's chances. )

Adult Wyoming Toads are only a couple of inches long and weigh about an ounce-and-a-half, the Fish and Wildlife Service says. They eat bugs including ants and crickets.

Why did they nearly go extinct?

No one's really sure.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says there are several theories. Among them: pesticides, changes in agriculture, getting eaten by animals, disease, and climate change.

Como Zoo says on July 17 one of its zookeepers will travel to Laramie for some field research and to meet with representatives from other institutions working on keeping the Wyoming Toad alive.

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