Zoo Animals

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

Panamanian golden frog

Atelopus zeteki

At the Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo is a part of the captive breeding program that may be the only hope for the Panamanian golden frog’s survival. The “assurance population” that the Zoo maintains may someday be able to return frogs to the wild in Panama. The Panamanian golden frog 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. Depending on the individual, it may have black splotches over its bright yellow skin. It also changes colors while developing, starting off as a blackish-gray tadpole with yellowish spots. When it emerges on land, it becomes a stunning green with black markings and later switches into the well-known golden color. If you look closely, it might appear that this frog “waves” to other golden frogs. This species developed this behavior as a way of communicating near fast-moving streams where audible calls may not be useful. 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 this species and many other amphibian species.

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.