From Save the Frogs
Amphibian populations in Virginia and worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have already completely disappeared in recent years.
Supporters of the environmental conservation group Save The Frogs congregated outside the Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Café in Arlington, Virginia yesterday to protest the restaurant chain's sales of frog legs. Far from your ordinary protest though, the majority of the protesters were under the age of 13. Eight middle and elementary school students joined two George Mason University students and five others to raise awareness of the rapid disappearance of frog species worldwide -- and the Rio Grande Café's contribution to the problem. This was the largest protest in defense of frog populations in the planet's history, and signifies a growing movement to save the world's remaining amphibian species, one-third of which are on the verge of extinction.
"America is on track to overtake France and Belgium to become the number one frog-eating country on the planet" says Dr. Kerry Kriger, the Manassas, VA native who founded and directs Save The Frogs, which is America's first and only public charity dedicated to protecting amphibians. "The frog leg trade is responsible for the spread of infectious diseases, the depletion of wild frog populations, and the spread of harmful invasive species". According to Dr. Kriger, the restaurant chain has refused to acknowledge the letters and phone calls from over 1,000+ Save The Frogs supporters, who say the Texas-based Tex-Mex chain is contributing to the extinction of frog species worldwide by selling American Bullfrogs farm-raised in China at their 16 locations.
These farm-raised bullfrogs are known carriers of a deadly skin disease called chytridiomycosis, which has caused the extinction of up to 100 amphibian species worldwide. As well as spreading the deadly chytrid fungus, the bullfrogs are harmful invasive species. Being farmed around the world has allowed them to invade 15 countries outside their native range, where they eat native frogs and other wildlife, damaging ecosystems.
Amphibian populations in Virginia and worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have already completely disappeared in recent years. Amphibians are faced with an onslaught of environmental problems, including climate change, pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades.
Saturday's protests were not the first the group has held. Twice previously, Save The Frogs supporters have taken to the streets at Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants in Virginia, Maryland and Texas. Dr. Kriger hopes the protests will educate restaurant patrons about frog extinctions and Rio Grande Café's environmental practices and encourage them to eat elsewhere. "It's great to see kids taking action and educating adults about the health of our ecosystems and simple ways to solve the planet's environmental problems. As former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine stated when he legally recognized Save The Frogs Day last year, 'children have the right to see, hear and catch amphibians in their native habitat'. With the help of students like those who took a stand in defense of the frogs yesterday, there's a good chance frogs will be around for a long time to come".