Lower Vertebrate & Invertebrate keeper Sam Lomax and Danish student Kirstine Loklindt decided it was time to show people the threats facing some of Madagascar’s rarest frog species. They embarked on a project to redesign five vivarium in the window displays in Amphibian Ark; they began by researching the threats and designing each enclosure to best explain these threats while still being suitable for the frogs.

This decision was made to add a striking visual impact alongside audio and descriptive displays. The initial idea was to attract attention and then raise awareness of the threats. The five threats decided upon were the illegal pet trade, deforestation, bush fires, vanilla plantations and gold mining.

Due to their bright colours, Madagascan frogs have become popular pets, meaning that large numbers are being taken from the wild. The illegal pet trade is one the largest growing trades in Madagascar; the aim of the enclosure was to show how frogs are collected from the wild and to teach people about sourcing frogs responsibly.

Cutting down forests for lumber and then burning the area to make space for farming, called tavy, changes habitat so dramatically the animals can no longer survive within the area. Many of these areas are cleared for vanilla plantations or mining. 

The enclosures and fixtures were designed and arranged to impress upon the viewer the destruction wrought by each individual threat. Alongside each tank is signage created by James Marsh, from Paignton Zoo’s graphics department, helping to describe how to protect the frogs.

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