Saving a Species

Once believed to be extinct, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad (PRCT) population has been on the rise. Since 2019, Miller Park Zoo has been working with other accredited institutions to breed a small population of toads for reintroduction into the wild. Our efforts have finally paid off! Recently, we sent off 37 tadpoles to Puerto Rico.

Many factors have led to their decline in population.  Such as, competition from invasive species, habitat destruction and rising sea levels. Researchers concluded that efforts needed to be taken to sustain a viable population. In 1984, the PRCT became the first amphibian to be placed on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Breeding these toads in captivity has proven to be a challenge. They require a very specific environment for breeding. Successful breeding can be impacted by temperature, rainfall simulation, diet, sound, and hormone production. Once eggs are laid, they develop into tadpoles quickly. After their arrival in Puerto Rico, the tadpoles are released into small holding ponds where they will mature and ultimately be released into the wild.

Currently, there are 18 institutions working to breed and reintroduce the PRCT back into the wild. Efforts are also being made to repair habitats and to educate local communities on the importance of the PRCT survival. Thanks to the Species Survival Plan, thousands of toads have been released back into their natural habitat in the Guanica National Forest.