5

Cerro Campana Stubfoot Toad

Central America

5

Atelopus zeteki

Endangered

  • The major threat is chytridiomycosis, which has led to catastrophic population declines in this species and many other wild populations of Atelopus.
  • Deforestation of habitat for both agriculture and general infrastructure development, water pollution, and over collection for the pet trade are also threats to this species.

The Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki), also known as Cerro Campana stubfoot toad and other names, is a species of toad endemic to Panama. Panamanian golden frogs inhabit the streams along the mountainous slopes of the Cordilleran cloud forests of west-central Panama. While the IUCN lists it as critically endangered, it may in fact have been extinct in the wild since 2007. Individuals have been collected for breeding in captivity in a bid to preserve the species. The alternative common name, Zetek’s golden frog, and the epithet zeteki both commemorate the entomologist James Zetek.

Despite its common name, the Panamanian golden frog is a true toad, a member of the family Bufonidae. It was first described as a subspecies of Atelopus varius, but is now classified as a separate species. The Panamanian golden frog is a national symbol and is considered to be one of the most beautiful frogs in Panama. The skin colour ranges from light yellow-green to bright gold, with some individuals exhibiting black spots on their backs and legs. Females are generally larger than males; females typically range from 45 to 63 mm (1.8 to 2.5 in) in length and 4 to 15 g (0.14 to 0.53 oz) in weight, with males between 35 and 48 millimetres (1.4 and 1.9 in) in length and 3 and 12 grams (0.11 and 0.42 oz) in weight.

The Panamanian golden frog is endemic to Panama, living close to mountain streams on the eastern side of the Tabasará mountain range in the Coclé and Panamá provinces. Its geographic range previously extended as far east as the town of El Copé in western Coclé Province before the onset of the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which caused the El Copé population to rapidly collapse in 2004. Vital habitat is lost each year to small farms, commercialized agriculture, woodlot operations, livestock range, industrial expansion, and real estate development. Individuals are kept in captive-breeding programmes in more than 50 institutions across North America and Panama.