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.


Please review our booking tips before continuing

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.

Pay For A Day Tickets

With a new Pay For A Day, Rest of Year Free ticket – for a limited time – you get unlimited admission through December 31, 2023 including access to our seasonal event series. Some blockout dates apply — see below for details. Not valid with any other discounts.

When does my Pay For A Day ticket expire?

For a limited time, new Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free tickets are valid from the day of purchase until 12/31/2023 Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free tickets which were purchased prior to October 1st, 2022 are valid until 12/31/2022.

What are the blockout dates?

3/11/23 – 3/19/23
11/24/23 – 11/26/23
12/26/23 – 12/31/23

Can I purchase a Pay For A Day ticket on a blockout date?

Yes! You can purchase a Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket for first-time use on a listed blockout date and have full access to the park on that day. Blockout dates apply to repeat visitation.

Can I use my Pay For A Day ticket on blockout dates?

If you already have your Pay for a Day, Rest of Year Free ticket and wish to visit during a listed blockout date, please stop by the Zoo’s ticketing windows for alternate options:

  1. During blockout periods, Pay For A Day ticket holders have access to significantly discounted single-day tickets.
  2. For a limited time from the date of purchase, Pay For A Day tickets can be upgraded to a Zoo Membership (with no blockout dates).
I purchased a Pay For A Day ticket online. How do I get my actual ticket?

Bring a copy of your confirmation (or show the confirmation email on your mobile device) to expedite entry into the Zoo. At your convenience during your visit you can stop by the Tours & Guest Services kiosk located just inside the Zoo to print your physical pass. No need to stand in line at the ticket windows. Walk right in!
Still have questions? Email us or call (813) 935-8552 ext. 0.