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A Project of Woodland Park Zoo's Living Northwest


Oregon spotted frog released into wetlands


About the Project

Woodland Park Zoo works collaboratively with the Oregon Zoo, Northwest Trek, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the Cedar Creek Correctional Center, and the Ft. Lewis Fish and Wildlife program to help save the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Once common and widespread in wetlands of the Puget Sound area, Oregon spotted frogs are endangered in Washington state and are a strong candidate for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Today, this habitat type is extremely limited with the frog inhabiting 10% or less of its former range in the Pacific Northwest. The ultimate goal of the Northwest Amphibian Recovery Project is to increase wild populations of the frog, and to re-establish it in one of the prime wetland habitats remaining in the Puget Sound area. Nearly every year WPZ has participated in the project, the survivorship and overall size of head started frogs has increased. 2012 saw the best success yet, with nearly 1,200 frogs released at Joint Base Lewis McChord. 




Local action + federal protection = hope for a species

Washington's wetlands are fast disappearing, and with them our native frogs. Now, the Oregon spotted frog has become an ambassador for our local wetlands, thrust into the national spotlight after receiving federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Woodland Park Zoo supports the federal listing and believes the powerful combination of local action and federal protection will build a better future for this species and myriad other wetland species under its umbrella. 

The future of this frog isn't just in the hands of conservationists and government officials—there are easy actions you can do at home to help protect this Northwest native. 

I will improve the health of nearby wetlands and Puget Sound by pledging to:


Conservation Action

Top Honors for Frogs

In 2012, the Northwest Amphibian Recovery Project was awarded top honors for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ competitive North American Conservation Award, the AZA’s highest honor for a national conservation program. Since conservation is AZA’s highest priority, this award recognized efforts towards regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild. 


About Oregon Spotted Frogs

The Oregon spotted frog is named for the black spots that cover the head, back, sides and legs. The dark spots have ragged edges and light centers, which are usually associated with tubercles or raised areas of the skin. These pots become larger and darker and the edges become more ragged with age. Body color also varies with age, adults range from brown to reddish brown, but tend to become more cranberry red with age. The Oregon spotted frog is a medium-sized frog, from 1.74 to 4 inches in length, with females typically larger than males.

In the Field

Oregon spotted frogs are under constant threat in the wild, mostly due to habitat alteration that eliminates their home and breeding range. Other documented threats include:

  • Invasive grasses
  • Invasive North American bullfrog
  • Habitat contamination
  • Introduced game fish species like trout and bass

To date, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has performed assays that indicate that the endemic strain of amphibian chytrid fungus is not a threat to this species.


At the Zoo

Breeding in the wild occurs in February or March at lower elevations, and in late May or early June at higher elevations. Females deposit egg masses in shallow, sometimes temporary pools, no more than six inches deep. Egg masses are collected from Conboy Lake and Black River watersheds and delivered to stakeholder institutions, including Woodland Park Zoo, where they are raised through metamorphosis. This process is called head starting. Once a healthy size that is less prone to predation from the invasive bullfrog, the head started frogs are reintroduced into federally-protected habitat.


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