The Puerto Rican Crested Toad: Working together to save a tiny toad

By Lee Ann Rottman, VP of Conservation

The Puerto Rican crested toad, Peltophryne lemur,is the only toad species native to Puerto Rico. The species once flourished on the island, but is now listed as Critically Endangered due to habitat loss and marine toads preying on their tadpoles. The crested toad is now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) as Critically Endangered.

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ZooTampa is a proud partner of the Puerto Rican Species Survival Plan (SSP) which includes 20 organizations working together to save this important species. The Zoo’s Herpetology team works to selectively breed pairs of crested toads.  This is a tedious process with many intricate steps.

What does the process look like?

  1. Exams: In early September, before breeding season, our crested toads received physical exams by our veterinarian, Dr. Nico Maldonado. Weights and x-rays were taken, as well as samples for parasitology. These exams are important to ensure the toads are healthy and fit for breeding.

2. Cooling period: Researchers discovered that cooling air temperature is nature’s way of signaling the toads to prepare for breeding. ZooTampa simulates this by slowly dropping the room temperature from 80 °F to 66°F. This was maintained for roughly four weeks and then slowly raised back to normal.

3. Breeding time: After the cooling period, in mid-October, the male and female pairs were introduced to each other in rain chambers for breeding. Wild crested toads will congregate in ponds after heavy rains and the males will call for females to join them. Our herpetologists, actually play a sound track of crested toad mating calls to help get our toads in mood.  Think of it like a little Barry White for the toads.

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4. Egg release/fertilization: If all goes as planned, the female toad will release her eggs and the male will fertilize them as she releases them. If the toads don’t naturally breed, our herpetologists can inject a hormone to help promote the release of both eggs and semen.

5. Release: The tadpoles will be released into ponds in Puerto Rico, which are monitored by field staff as they morph into toadlets and disperse. To date, through the combined efforts of the Puerto Rican crested Species Survival Plan, more than 400,000 tadpoles have been reintroduced back into the wild.

This year at ZooTampa, two of our toad pairs produced clutches of fertilized eggs. Within 24 hours the fertilized eggs began to hatch into tadpoles.  Staff will continue feed and care for the tadpole until they’re ready to be sent to Puerto Rico for release.

You can help too! By purchasing a Zoo ticket, you are helping us care for Zoo animals and save species on the brink of extinction, like the Puerto Rican crested toad.

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Please review our booking tips before continuing

1. Please make one field trip per reservation order. Complete one and start a new one if you have multiple days you are booking.

2. Headcount can be approximate. Please include children and adults in your headcount. Please do not include pass holders in your headcount for a ticket.

3. On the ticket page, choose the correct grade level (to the left of your screen) to receive the correct chaperone ratio.

4. On the ticket page, when on the calendar section, the number of tickets available will appear in the top right corner for each particular day. Tickets available include children and adults. If you have more people than tickets available, please choose another day.

5. Anyone that is ordering lunch, even pass holders and adults that receive free chaperone tickets, do need to pay for a lunch IF they are ordering one. Free chaperone tickets and pass holders are for admission only.

Boxed lunch orders must be received 5 business days prior to your field trip arrival. Groups will be responsible for all boxed lunches that were confirmed at that time.

6. Payment does not need to be paid at the time of registration. Choose the pay upon arrival option if you would like one person to pay for your entire trip on the day of your visit.

7. The prices of adult and children’s tickets are different.

8. You will receive a confirmation number and confirmation letter via email when your trip is confirmed. If you do not, please contact FieldTrips@ZooTampa.org right away.

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Important Information

To complete your camp registration, you must:

  • Add camps to your shopping cart.
  • Enter roster information for each camp.
    • List all people that are authorized to pick-up your child from camp.
    • No camper will be released unless the adult picking up the child is on the authorized pick-up list and shows a photo ID.
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  • Upon payment, you will receive a Confirmation Email with the above documents attached. Please print, sign, and return the Camp Waiver and Liability Release to EducationPrograms@ZooTampa.org or ZooTampa Summer Camp, c/o Jamie Elkington, 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. All waivers MUST be received no later than 2 weeks prior to the start of your camp program or your registration is subject to cancellation.

By clicking the registration button below, I confirm that I have read and agree to the Camp Waiver and Liability Release and Camp Handbook and will print, sign, and return the Camp Waiver and Liability Release to complete my registration.

‘Tis the Season For Giving!

Donate to the ZooTampa Giving Tree

Trustees of the Lowry Park Zoological Society, Directors of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation, and the Employees and Volunteers of ZooTampa understand and appreciate the vital role of philanthropy to accomplish our work. That’s why we subscribe to the Donor Bill of Rights developed by the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, National Society of Fund Raising Executives:

“Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To assure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes that they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:

  1. To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
  2. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
  3. To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
  4. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
  5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.
  6. To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
  7. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
  8. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
  9. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
  10. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.”

ZooTampa at Lowry Park is committed to protecting your privacy. We value the trust of our donors, volunteers, employees, and other supporters and recognize that maintaining this trust requires us to ensure the confidentiality of personal information that you share with us.

As a non-profit organization, ZooTampa relies on your support, depends on the support of generous contributors, and achieves ambitious fundraising objectives by communicating with and understanding donors. We know that it is essential to protect the privacy of that information. ZooTampa, the Lowry Park Zoological Society, and the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation will neither sell nor trade a donor’s personal information to any other entity without the written permission of the donor.

FLORIDA STATE REGISTRATION

Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa, INC.: Registration No. CH140
Lowry Park Endowment Foundation, INC.: Registration No. CH20389

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES

Phone: (800) 435-7352
FloridaConsumerHelp.com

Christmas in the Wild Reservation Changes

  • This can be found in your original purchase or reservation confirmation email.
  • We will do our best to accommodate your request, however changes are based on availability. A member of our team will reach out to you via the contact information provided above within 48 hours. Note: an additional fee may apply to event tickets being changed to a higher priced event night. Thank you!

Commemorations

Outside Food & Drinks Policy

ZooTampa at Lowry Park offers a variety of delicious food for guests at several restaurants and concession stands throughout, but we understand that guests may need to bring outside food for special dietary needs. Acceptable and prohibited food items are listed below. For the convenience of our guests, there is a picnic area located outside the park near the main parking lot.

 Acceptable Items
  • Bottled water (max 20oz bottle, sealed) one per guest
  • Small snacks for young children
  • Baby food/baby formula
  • Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep (limit one per child)
  • Pre-purchased empty ZooTampa souvenir cups
  • Any food required for medical purposes and medically-indicated nutritional supplements
 Prohibited Items
  • Prepared or packaged food or meals
  • Alcohol
  • Glass or any open containers or water bottles filled with beverages
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

Prohibited Items

For the safety of our animals, guests and employees, the following items are not permitted to be brought into ZooTampa:

  • Any type of explosive or weapon 
  • Knives or other sharp objects
  • Pepper spray
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Marijuana
  • Illegal drugs
  • Straws
  • Clothing likely to create a danger or disturbance
  • Any hazardous items or materials

The following items are also prohibited to avoid blocking of walkways and/or trip hazards:

  • Segways
  • Hover boards
  • Two-wheeled scooters
  • Self-balancing electric vehicles
  • Shoes with wheels
  • Drones
  • Hard-sided coolers of any size
  • Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5” wide x 6” high x 6” deep
  • Suitcases and soft-sided bags with wheels larger than 24” long x 15” wide x 18” high

Please leave any unnecessary articles secured within your vehicle to expedite your entry into the park.

We reserve the right to deny entry to anyone not observing Zoo Rules.