National / Science & Health

Taipei and Sapporo zoos collaborate to breed rare poison dart frogs

by Ko Shu-Ling

Kyodo

Taipei Zoo has said it has successfully bred yet another species of poison dart frog, with expertise from a Japanese zoo, and expects the first batch of hatched tadpoles to transform into froglets in the coming days.

Tai Wei-yu, a section chief of the zoo’s Amphibian and Reptile House, said the South American blue poison dart frog is the latest species to be bred using techniques shared by Sapporo Maruyama Zoo.

The zoo had already bred three other species from adults provided by Maruyama Zoo three years ago — including the green-and-black poison dart frog in 2015, the yellow-banded poison dart frog in 2016 and the golden poison dart frog earlier this year.

Tai said the Taipei Zoo has long been impressed by Maruyama Zoo’s breeding programs.

The two zoos signed a partnership agreement in 2013 to assist each other through sharing of knowledge and expertise.

Tai said he expects the blue poison dart frog tadpoles to metamorphose into terrestrial juveniles — developing their back legs first, then their front legs — as early as next week.

Because poison dart frogs are popular in the exotic pet trade, illegal collection from the wild in Central and South America poses a serious threat to some species, as does the shrinking of rainforest habitats, the zookeeper said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature, on its Red List of Threatened Species, designated the blue poison dart frog as a species of least concern, while the golden poison dart frog, one of the most poisonous animals in the world, is endangered.

Poison dart frogs secrete powerful skin toxins that are traditionally used by indigenous peoples in South America to coat the tips of blow-gun darts for hunting.