While a popular attraction in northwest England, Chester Zoo is also a registered charity and tireless conservationist. Though many of its activities involve protecting UK species from extinction, its teams of experts are also involved in projects all over the world.
The zoo recently highlighted a project it is proud to be collaborating on, taking place in the island of Dominica. The Caribbean location is a destination of exceptional natural beauty, but also biodiversity. Among its fast-flowing rivers and verdant forests, a rare species known as the mountain chicken frog is currently fighting to survive.
Working closely with other organisations from around the world, including the Caribbean governments, the zoo is part of the Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme, an initiative that aims to pull the rare frog species back from the brink of extinction.
A carnivorous species, the frogs play a critical role in the ecosystem of the island. They are among the biggest frogs on the planet, and can leap right over a fully-grown person. In terms of weight, they can be as heavy as 1kg, making them more than 30 times heavier than most frogs in the UK.
While the mountain chicken frog could once be found on multiple Caribbean islands, today it only populates two: Dominica and Montserrat. However, due to the development of a deadly fungus and multiple invasive predators, it has also become critically endangered in these remaining habitats.
The Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme involves not only Chester Zoo, but the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica’s Wildlife and Parks Division, and Riga Zoo among others.