Zoo Animals

Detroit Zoo - Panamanian Golden Frog
Detroit Zoo - Panamanian Golden Frog

Panamanian golden frog

Atelopus zeteki

At the Detroit Zoo
The beautiful and once locally revered golden frog of Panama may be extinct in the wild as a result of deforestation, capture by people for the pet trade, and amphibian chytrid fungus.  The growing human population in Panama exerts greater pressure on wild ecosystems as areas are cleared for cattle farming and as the use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides in agriculture increases.  The chytrid fungus infection that is spreading through Central America (and other parts of the world) is having a devastating effect on these and many other amphibian species. The Detroit Zoo is a part of the captive breeding program that may be the only hope for golden frogs’ survival. The “assurance population” that zoos maintain may someday be able to return golden frogs to the wild in Panama. If you look closely, it might appear that these frogs are “waving” to each other. This is a behavior they developed to communicate with each other since they live near fast moving streams where audible calls may not be useful. They also change colors while developing, starting off as blackish-grey tadpoles with yellowish spots. When they emerge on land they become a stunning green with black markings and then switch into the well-known golden color. They can be seen at the award-winning National Amphibian Conservation Center – a leader in amphibian conservation and research – which houses a spectacular diversity of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.


The Panamanian golden frog is slender with long limbs. Some have black splotches over their bright yellow skin.

Fun Facts

  • The Panamanian golden frog produces a nerve toxin that hurts its predators when attacked.

  • The frog is considered good luck in Panama and is that country's national animal.