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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View This Issue
The INDEPENDENT, April 2, 2009
Rare frog is on display at Oregon Zoo
Garrett Loders, Maria Pelster and Caleb Hardy are shown
during a rehearsal for The Scarlet Pimpernel, being produced
by the Vernonia Homeschoolers. See page 11 for schedule
and details of play. Photo courtesy of Carol Pelster.
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Oregon Zoo visitors can now check out this rare, bright-red tomato frog, native only to Mada-
gascar. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.
What’s red and hops? A
tomato frog! Local residents
can get a peek at this rare
species, native only to the is-
land of Madagascar, in a new
display at the Oregon Zoo’s
Bamba du Jon Swamp exhibit.
True to its name, the Mada-
gascar tomato frog (Dyscophus
antongilii) looks quite a bit like
a ripe, red tomato. Don’t try to
eat one though. One reason
these amphibians are so bright-
ly colored is to warn would-be
predators about their toxic ex-
cretions. When threatened, a
tomato frog puffs itself up to ap-
pear larger and, if that doesn’t
work, it secretes a white, sticky
toxic substance from its skin.
But even though tomato
frogs have defenses, it’s not
easy being red in Madagascar
these days. The frogs’ bright
reddish-orange skin makes it
easy for poachers in the pet-
trade industry to spot them on
the ground and pick them up.
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Yep, just like tomatoes.
Tomato frogs are also sus-
ceptible to pesticides and de-
tergents found in irrigation
runoff. The frogs often hang out
in ditches near farms to catch
the water, but this, along with
the poaching, has caused their
numbers to drop.
prompted conservation efforts
by zoos in the United States
and Madagascar to educate
the public and save tomato
frogs from possible extinction.
The Madagascar Fauna Group,
an international consortium of
zoos and other conservation
organizations, has started an
exhibit in the tomato frog’s na-
tive country at the Parc Zo-
The zoo opens at 9 a.m. dai-
ly and is located just off High-
way 26. The zoo is also acces-
sible by MAX light rail line.
General admission is $9.75
(12-64), seniors $8.25 (65+),
children $6.75 (3-11), and in-
fants 2 and under are free; 25
cents of the admission price
helps fund regional conserva-
tion projects through the zoo’s
Future for Wildlife program. A
parking fee of $2 per car is also
required. Additional information
is available at www.ore-
gonzoo.org or by calling 503-