In 2012 the government of Panama passed a law designating August 14 as its day. During this month various zoos celebrate this frog by sponsoring special activities and informational programs. We went to the event at Summit Park which is located a short distance outside Panama City.
This cute little poisonous golden frog is a widely used symbol, appearing on the lottery tickets, as the name of a pub, and in arts and crafts. For centuries native peoples used the frog´s toxic skin to make poison arrows. Its name in Spanish is Rana Dorada.
A local myth says that when the toad dies it turns to gold and will bring good luck to anyone who is lucky enough to see it.
It is endemic to Panama and lives in the humid tropical forests, usually close to streams. However it is now critically endangered. One reason is a fungal infection, a frog pandemic, that is killing off frogs and toads, seriously reducing populations.
Several conservation efforts and breeding programs underway in Panama and at some zoos in the United States. Populations are kept in safety ready to be released back into the wild when the fungus disease is less of a threat. The Smithsonian has some golden frogs on display at their Punta Culebra site near the Amador Causeway.
At Summit Park, in a classroom near the entrance, several kinds of frogs were on display including the golden frog. Also displayed were some of the many kinds of insects they like to eat. We got to handle one of them. Later Dustin had the chance to hold a (non-poisonous) frog. He was given a badge to show he did hold it. Some kids were afraid to touch them.
Staff members answered questions and helped us find the frogs that hid in plain sight in their terrariums. The frogs blended in with their environment so well. Some were very hard to spot.
The exhibit was well done, the staff knew their subject and were enthusiastic. Well worth the trip to see it.