Paignton Zoo is now home to some cool toads.

The seven East African Nectophrynoides viviparous (“necto-fry-noydees vivi-par-us”) toads have come to Devon from Durrell Wildlife in Jersey. In the wild they are found high up on mountains where the climate is cooler.

They are the only examples of their species in any zoo in the UK and may be the only ones in any collection in the world.

For Mike Bungard, the Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates, they are a sign of changing times: “They come from the Udzungwa mountains, which is the site of our Tanzanian amphibian project. High altitude amphibians are likely to be one of the first species to succumb to a changing climate - we hope they will be an important research species for us. They are also favourites of mine!”

Paignton Zoo’s Amphibian Ark has bio-secure, climate-controlled rooms. Research is being carried out to look at why species use habitat differently in changing climatic conditions. Mike: “The hope is that we can then make recommendations for conservationists to manage habitats to combat climate change. This type of research to support conservation in the wild is vital and we also learn much more about keeping these species in order to provide the best possible conditions.”

The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because it is found in a small area which is severely fragmented, and the quality and extent of its forest habitat is declining. It is listed on CITES Appendix I, which includes some of the most endangered animals and plants on the planet, and which prohibits international trade in specimens.

In the longer term, Mike hopes to breed them. “They are one of the few toads or frogs that give birth to live young – rather than laying huge strings of eggs, the young develop inside the body of the mother.”

The toads can be seen in the Zoo’s Amphibian Ark facility.

Quotes So much to see, beautifully laid out and loads of interesting information on all the animals. Quotes