Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests will get a “leap” on this weekend’s time change with a series of frog-focused activities reminding them to set their clocks ahead. Plus they’ll get some tips on how to help preserve a ‘frog friendly’ environment to help combat their dwindling numbers.
Beginning today, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will kick off a series of events to celebrate the beginning of daylight saving time this weekend. Activities include a frog-leap that challenges children to see if they can jump as far as frogs and a special frog-calling game where guests match the frog to the corresponding “ribbit.” Frog “wannabes” may also don “frog-wear” with goggles to model transparent amphibian eyelids, mesh vests to represent permeable skin and special suction-cupped gloves to demonstrate frogs unique feet.
The events are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ efforts to promote conservation and raise awareness of the serious decline in amphibian populations. According to some estimates, as many as one-third of the known amphibian species may be threatened by extinction because of loss of habitat, climate change, pollution and disease.
Frogs and amphibians play an essential role in the ecosystems of the world and are keenly attuned to changes in the environment and are considered an “indicator” species, meaning they can provide an early warning for endangered ecosystems. In addition, frogs provide valuable scientific and medical benefits to humans. The skin of amphibians contains substances that can protect them from some microbes and viruses, which can offer possible medical cures for a variety of human diseases, including AIDS.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, members of the Animal Programs team are studying the nutritional needs of the Puerto Rican Crested Toad, a species native to Puerto Rico where it is threatened by extinction. The study will help conservationists determine alternate habitat where food is abundant for them. Researchers are also studying the amphibian population in our backyard – Disney’s Wildlife Management and Conservation Area.
Aside from the subtle clock change reminder, the program is designed to engage guests in conservation efforts to help them protect more frogs and amphibians in their hometowns. Some of the suggestions include:
- Build a pond with native shrubs, or provide an overturned pot, small areas of leaf litter, logs, and dirt piles to benefit amphibians.
- Get an amphibian field guide to learn where certain amphibians live.
- Find books on frogs and discover why they sing loudly, hear well and stay up late.
- Visit a local pond or nature park and listen for the calls of different frog species.
- Use fewer chemical pesticides to keep amphibians healthy.
- Observe the variety and behaviors of frogs by just looking; allow them to continue their important work.
- Remember that the chemicals from soaps and lotions can hurt their delicate skin if they’re touched.
Finally, I can’t believe Disney is doing this whole promotion without mentioning the upcoming release of “The Princess and the Frog” this Christmas or that other famous frog, Kermit (I guess he’s still property of Jim Henson Productions). Seems like a natural tie-in to me.