FrogWatch is Positively Fort Wayne

A FrogWatch USA class is offered at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo.

Fort Wayne, Ind (WANE) –

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you won’t find some activity at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. In fact, during the month of February some people like the Bissontz family go to the zoo to learn about frogs. “We live in Spencerville and we have a pond and there are a lot of bullfrogs,” said Evan Bissontz. The 12-year old and his family attended FrogWatch classes at the zoo last February. “Well we learned about frogs,” said Evan’s 10-year old brother Nathan. “We learned about bull frogs, spring peepers and rock frogs and ways to help the environment for frogs to grow.”

FrogWatch is really more about listening than watching. “It is a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA),” said Zoo Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Terlizzi. “Frog numbers are in serious decline, and we need help tracking trends in their population. They’re breeding calls we’re listening to. So if you heard them last year and don’t this year and you look up and there’s a parking lot, that’s probably because we’ve gotten rid of their habitat.”

“They need certain kinds of habitats,” said 8-year old Noelle Bissontz. “The frogs also need different kinds of temperatures, different places to live to stay alive and food.”  Noelle and her family report the different frog calls they hear around their pond in the spring, summer and fall to the zoo. That information gets entered into a database that tracks the frogs and analyzes the environment and habitat loss. “It takes five minutes twice a week in your own backyard if you have a pond,” said Terlizzi. “You report that and an actual scientist can track that phenology and what happens over time. Frogs are an indicator species. Since they breathe through their skin and they’re found in water and land, they’re one of the first animals that will show signs of distress if we have pollution.”

Cutting down on pollution is also part of the program. “We work to make sure we don’t spill pollution and put soaps and certain chemicals in the water,” said Nathan. “We study 11 toads and frogs in this area, they are the ones that are in Northeast Indiana,” said Pam George who teaches the class. “We have the Spring Peeper, Chorus Frog, Wood Frog, Gray Tree Frog. We also have a Green Frog, a Bull Frog, an American Toad, the Fowler’s Toad plus others.” Each frog has its own look and sound. For mom Kristen Bissontz, FrogWatch is a great positive activity for a lot of reasons. “It’s a great class and for me and my family it’s an opportunity for us to do something on our own property together,” said Bissontz. “It’s a great program and it helps you help the frogs and the environment and be a citizen scientist.”

You can tune your ears to the tune of Mother Nature’s favorite leapers later this month. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo FrogWatch USA Chapter is holding two FREE training classes, in the lower level of the Zoo Education Center located at 600 Franke Park Drive. You only need to attend one class. Classes are Saturday, February 17 and Saturday, February 24 from 11 AM to 3 PM. Participants should bring a sack lunch and drink. Families, adults, teens, and youth groups are all welcome. To register for a class contact the Zoo Volunteer Office at 260-427-6828 or e-mail volunteer@kidszoo.org.

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a conservation leader, contributing more than $250,000 annually to local, regional, and international efforts to protect wild animals and habitats, and participating in 63 cooperative species survival plans. The zoo will open for the season April 21, 2018.