LONDON, December 28 /PRNewswire/ --

A child's game will be the focal point of a serious campaign to avert a mass extinction of amphibian species when zoos around the world hold leapfrog events on Dec. 31 to usher in "the year of the frog." Beginning at the Auckland Zoo in New Zealand, and ending at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California, zoo visitors will form leapfrog lines and hop over each other -- to stretch their legs, and to raise awareness.

From one-third to one-half of the planet's 6,000 amphibian species are in danger of extinction. As many as 165 species may already be extinct. Amphibian Ark, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) have declared 2008 "The Year of the Frog" to raise awareness and critical funding.

Countries with zoos holding New Year's Eve leapfrog events include, by time zone, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Russia, South Africa, Latvia, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, and Colombia.

Amphibians are often called "the canaries in the coal mine," and when hundreds of species are in decline it serves as a global warning to other species. Amphibian Ark, part of the Global Conservation Network, a 501(c)3 organization, develops, promotes, and guides short-term captive management of the most threatened amphibians. Amphibian Ark's work makes possible the long-term survival of species for which adequate protection in the wild is not currently possible.

A list of many participating zoos can be found on The Web site explains the crisis, features an online petition and links to blogs from conservation and wildlife experts, and accepts donations to help fund Amphibian Ark's work. It will cost US$50-US$60 million to rescue the 500 most threatened species.

The leapfrog events are preceded by considerable momentum for the campaign to save amphibians:

-- Sir David Attenborough, whose "Life in Cold Blood" television series on amphibians and reptiles will debut in the spring, last week attended the unveiling of a frog sculpture at the London Zoo to help usher in the special year. -- Jeff Corwin, co-host of CNN's "Planet in Peril" specials and host of "The Jeff Corwin Experience" on Animal Planet, has taped PSAs. -- Earlier this month the Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX) became the first corporate sponsor of Amphibian Ark. -- The U.S.-based National Association of Biology Teachers announced a partnership with Amphibian Ark that will more deeply engage 6,000 teachers in the cause.

Web site:

Lesley Dickie, in London, +44-(0)20-7449-6209; or Jeff Davis, in the U.S., +1-314-982-7780, both for Amphibian Ark