Amphibian Ark

Amphibians are an important component of the global ecosystem, as indicators of environmental health and contributors to human health. They watched the dinosaurs come and go, but today almost half of them are themselves threatened with extinction. Addressing the amphibian extinction crisis represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity.

The AArk is a joint effort of three principal partners: the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), and the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA). We were formed to address the ex situ components of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP). The global conservation community has formulated a response in the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan, and an integral part of that response is the Amphibian Ark (AArk), in which select species that would otherwise go extinct will be maintained in captivity until they can be secured in the wild. Without immediate captive management as a stopgap component of an integrated conservation effort, hundreds of species could become extinct.

Our vision is the world’s amphibians safe in nature, and our mission is ensuring the global survival of amphibians, focusing on those that cannot currently be safeguarded in nature. We coordinate ex situ programs implemented by partners around the world, with the first emphasis on programs within the range countries of the species, and with a constant attention to our obligation to couple ex situ conservation measures with necessary efforts to protect or restore species in their natural habitats. 

An AArk Steering Committee, with Executive Co-Chairs from each of the three principal partners, provide strategic guidance on the activities of the AArk and ensure excellent communication with all stakeholders. A number of dedicated positions coordinate all aspects of implementation within the AArk initiative; assist AArk partners in evaluating the conservation needs for amphibian species and regions for ex situ conservation work; lead development and implementation oftraining programs for building capacity of individuals and institutions; and develop communications strategies, newsletters and other messages, and materials to promote understanding and action on behalf of amphibian conservation. Advisory Committees have been formed to consult on species-specific issues, for example, reintroduction, gene banking, and veterinary, legal, and ethical concerns. 


Members of the AArk are WAZA members and WAZA affiliates, members of regional or national zoo associations, ISIS, AArk approved private partners and AArk approved museums, universities and wildlife agencies. It is not the goal of AArk’s programs to collect animals from the wild purely for exhibit in US or European zoos. In fact, that is the last thing we want, and as an end point, it would represent complete failure of the program. Although the proximal action to save critical species from immediate extinction will be sending them to the nearest existing facilities with available space and resident expertise, the ultimate goal is to enable the range countries currently lacking facilities and expertise to care for their own species. This will allow outside experts to free up their time and space to begin the process anew with other species in other regions of the world. These two activities – rescue and capacity building – must occur together or at least sequentially. If outside institutions allow themselves to become inundated with specimens from their initial efforts, they will be unable to do anything meaningful elsewhere and we will fail to reach our primary goal. Successful amphibian conservation will be achieved when a given species is sustainably managed by its own range country experts and there is no longer a need for outside institutions to hold any specimens of that species. Ultimately, every region should only have to manage their own species, although tropical regions might continue to require help from temperate regions due to overwhelming volume versus infrastructure resources.



Amphibian Ark’s mission is to ensure the global survival of amphibians, focusing on those that cannot currently be safeguarded in nature. To help achieve our mission, we carry out a number of varied activities:

  • Raising awareness about the global amphibian crisis, and we can all play a part in helping to save amphibians, via the internet, newsletters and global campaigns, such as the very successful 2008 Year of the Frog campaign.
  • Developing new partnerships, and helping to strengthen exiting ones, between amphibian conservation organisations, especially those involved in amphibian ex situconservation programs. Our Frog MatchMaker list provides many opportunities too help support amphibian conservation programs.
  • Developing and running ex situ conservation training courses in regions and countries where additional expertise is required. This includes the development ofhusbandry manuals and guidelines.
  • Facilitating conservation needs assessment workshops, where regional amphibian experts help to determine and prioritize the conservation needs for species in their regions, and making the results of these workshops available to the wider amphibian conservation community.
  • Promoting the successes that our partners are achieving with their ex situ amphibian conservation programs.
  • Initiating Advisory Committees to assisting our partners with population management, biobanking, husbandry/biosecurity and other technical areas.
  • Raising funds to help support much-needed conservation programs, by applying for grants and by promoting contributions from the corporate sector and the general public.
  • Providing seed grants to fund small start-up projects that are in need of seed money in order to build successful long-term programs that attract larger funding.
  • Facilitating communication amongst the amphibian conservation community by providing a contact list of amphibian expertise throughout the world.


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