The hatchlings are the first tadpoles of Lake Titicaca frogs (Telmatobius culeus) ever born in North America. They're the offspring of two frogs from the Huachipa Zoo in the amphibians' native Peru. The Denver Zoo is the only Northern Hemisphere institution caring for this frog species, which is native to a single high-altitude lake in the Andes. The tadpoles hatched on Valentine's Day.
[caption id="attachment_45101" align="alignnone" width="1197"] SONY DSC[/caption]
Lake Titicaca frogs are critically endangered because of environmental contamination and poaching. They're the key ingredient in a traditional health shake called Jugo de Rana, or frog juice, which is rumored to increase vitality and virility (there's no evidence that it does). Most of the tadpoles are now on display in Denver. When they mature into frogs, some will stay at the Denver Zoo, while others will be sent to other accredited institutions. Before the Denver Zoo received its Lake Titicaca frogs, it had been more than 20 years since any zoo in America had housed the species.