by Mike Drew

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The Calgary Zoo Jumps in to Save Frogs

Sep 30, 2010

Photographer Mike Drew takes a leap into the Calgary Zoo’s frog research

Breana Jones knows how to spot southern Alberta’s leopards.

Leopards of the amphibious variety, that is. She’s a researcher with the Calgary Zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research, looking into the strange disappearance of northern leopard frogs from much of their former Alberta range.

With Calgary Zoo researchers on the case, Alberta’s leopard frogs still have a fighting chance.

Even though the frogs are some of the biggest in Alberta’s wetlands, they’re not always easy to pick out among the shoreline vegetation. But on a recent frog hunt near the Cypress Hills in southeastern Alberta, Breana checked out two bodies of water and found not only several leopard frogs but clusters of eggs as well.

Dedicated to her work, she walked the windy shorelines along an open-country reservoir, crawling under fences and sweating in chest waders while looking for the green and black frogs. A couple of hours later she was back at it again, this time at a much smaller pond working her way around fallen trees and sloshing through sulphurous mud.

It’s all in a days work, though. Finding the frogs and keeping track of the remaining populations may one day lead to figuring out why western populations are declining while eastern populations of the frogs remain stable.

With researchers like Breana on the case, Alberta’s leopard frogs still have a fighting chance.

As published in the Fall 2010 issue of the Calgary Zoo’s member magazine.