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Toledo Zoo earns national conservation award for efforts with rare toad

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In 2012, the Toledo Zoo and its conservation partners released Kihansi spray toads to their native habitat in Tanzania. Now it's receiving a national conservation award for its efforts. (Source: Toledo Zoo/R. Andrew Odum) In 2012, the Toledo Zoo and its conservation partners released Kihansi spray toads to their native habitat in Tanzania. Now it's receiving a national conservation award for its efforts. (Source: Toledo Zoo/R. Andrew Odum)
TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has recognized the Toledo Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo for their exceptional efforts in habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild.

Specifically, the Significant Achievement in International Conservation award recognizes success with the Kihansi spray toad reintroduction program. AZA leaders announced the award at the AZA's national conference Sept. 7–12.

"The Bronx Zoo and Toledo Zoo are proven leaders in international wildlife conservation," said Jim Maddy, president and CEO of AZA. "While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to the Bronx Zoo and Toledo Zoo for making a positive impact on the future of this species."

In 2009, the species was declared extinct in the wild. In 2012, after more than a decade of maintaining assurance populations at their facilities, the Toledo Zoo and its conservation partners released Kihansi spray toads to their native habitat in Tanzania.

Toledo Zoo staff involved with this project include R. Andrew Odum, curator of herpetology and assistant director of animal programs, along with a team of herpetologists. Assurance populations of the toads continue to thrive in the zoo's Amazing Amphibians exhibit, where visitors can see the animals and observe staff caring for them in a biosecure lab.

"So few people in the world ever have a chance to see a species that has vanished from the wild – and even fewer get to see animals that are destined to travel to the other side of the world for reintroduction into their native habitat," said Odum. "We are proud to accept this award, but we are even prouder of our work on this project; the reintroduction of these toads marks a long-term, dedicated team effort among conservationists worldwide."

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