Leap Day is about an extra day in February, but at the Oklahoma City Zoo, it's also a day to educate visitors about four-legged creatures that are important to the environment.
The zoo will open a new frog exhibit Wednesday with several additions to its collection. There will be some fun and games, too.
“We want to share conservation stories and we want to conserve species,” curator Stacey Sekscienski said. “The first step in conservation is making people appreciate what you're trying to conserve. That's what we're doing with this exhibit.”
The exhibit at Island Treasures in Island Life will feature seven new frogs not previously exhibited at the zoo, including the strawberry dart frog, Asian climbing toads and the cinnamon tree frog.
Some are as small as an eraser head while others are so well camouflaged the untrained eye wouldn't know they are there.
The zoo will offer several activities to go along with Leap Day including frog origami, toad abode show-and-tell, amphibian transformers and catch-a-bug frog-style. Activities will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the main plaza. There is no extra cost to participate.
Several of the frogs on display are endangered. The brown mantella is native to Madagascar. The Puerto Rican crescent toad also is endangered. One reason is habitat loss. Frog reproduction is often more complicated than with other animals.
“Dogs can breed when they want,” reptile and amphibian supervisor Jorge Chavez said. “Some frogs are like that, too, but for a lot of them it has to be the right time and right season and temperature. Everything has to be perfect. It's difficult to recreate that.
“We think by housing them in a single room we can better control those factors,” Chavez said.
Leap Day is part of the Leap Ahead of Extinction program at several zoos across the United States and internationally. Sekscienski said amphibians are valuable to the environment for a number of reasons.
“It has been estimated that a population of a thousand cricket frogs could consume almost 5 million insects in a year,” she said. “In places where amphibians have been completely wiped out, there are increases in insect population that can damage crops.”
And beyond those reasons, Chavez said, frogs are fun.
“They're unique and interesting,” he said. “It's hard not to like them, or find something interesting about them.”