Threatened frogs get cushy new habitat at a Panamanian hotel

Hundreds of frogs and toads can be found in an unusual habitat in Panama — Rooms 28 and 29 of the Hotel Campestre in the town of El Valle de Anton. An international crew of biologists, environmentalists, and zoo employees relocated the critters to save them from the deadly chytrid fungus, which has been working its way through Central America for a decade and has wiped out up to 120 species of amphibians. The hotel now houses more than 300 frogs of 40 threatened species — frogs with translucent skin, frogs that look like rocks, and the golden frog, a symbol of prosperity and virility whose visage appears on Panamanian lottery tickets. A state-of-the-art center in a private zoo in El Valle is being built for froggie refugees, and they very well may live there hoppily ever after, as biologists have no idea how long the chytrid fungus will be a threat. “There’s this moral dilemma,” says Adrian Benedetti, director of a Panamanian zoo. “Is this evolution? Should we let it run its course? If we do this for frogs, then do we do it some other time for the snakes?”