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World’s Loneliest Frog Discovers Friends Around the World This Valentine’s Day

Global Wildlife Conservation and Match Surpass $15,000 Goal to Help Romeo the Sehuencas Water Frog Find Love

For immediate release
February 16, 2018
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People from around the globe showed their love this Valentine’s Day for the world’s loneliest amphibian, Romeo the Sehuencas water frog. Together Global Wildlife Conservation, Match, the world’s largest relationship company, and the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, a project of Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny of Cochabamba, far exceeded their $15,000 goal, instead raising an incredible $25,000 to send expeditions into the field to find a mate for Romeo, who is the last-known individual of his species.

“We are overwhelmed by the support from Match and all of the donors who generously let Romeo into their heart this week,” said Arturo Muñoz, founder of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, Global Wildlife Conservation associate conservation scientist, and Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny affiliate. “Romeo is an ambassador for all of the frog species in his genus that are teetering on the edge of extinction. Thanks to the help of everyone that donated, we hope that our next big announcement will be that we found Romeo his Juliet and established a conservation breeding program to save his species from extinction.”

The #Match4Romeo campaign raised the $25,000 from 32 countries across the world Feb. 9 through Valentine’s Day. The donations will support the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative’s 10 expeditions to locations where the species was once common, and to similar habitats where biologists have not had a chance to look before. Match matched each donation during the course of the campaign, and created a profile for the amphibious bachelor to give Romeo a platform and bring his story to life.

Muñoz said the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative will use all of the extra funds to help save the Sehuencas Water Frog from extinction, and is considering using the additional money to:

  • Purchase equipment to collect environmental DNA (eDNA) on the expeditions, which will reveal whether Sehuencas water frogs are in the area even if the researchers don’t find the animals right away. They might also purchase sound recording equipment to try to verify the species’ presence by recording its call.
  • Construct a biosecure conservation breeding center for the species if the team finds other Sehuencas water frogs. This will help keep the animals safe from disease so that someday the species could be released back into the wild.
  • Work with an Australian lab on collecting and freezing Romeo’s sperm and other tissues so that, as a plan B, they can try in vitro fertilization if the expeditions find a female but the pair fails to breed naturally.

The expedition teams plan to get out into the field as early as June, Muñoz said, before the rains are heavy, to areas where the Sehuencas water frog was once common.

About Romeo

Biologists collected Romeo 10 years ago knowing that the Sehuencas water frog, like other amphibians in Bolivia, was in trouble. Romeo currently lives in an aquarium at the captive breeding center of Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Cochabamba City, Bolivia. In all of these years, no biologist has been able to find another Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare) in the wild.

The Sehuencas water frog is a fully aquatic frog that was once abundant as tadpoles on the bottom of small streams or rivers, and in ponds in montane could forest of Bolivia. A combination of climate change, habitat loss, pollution, the deadly chytrid amphibian pathogen, and the introduction of trout has resulted in precipitous declines in Telmatobius species in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

Muñoz describes Romeo as a shy frog who likes to stay under rocks and peek out only when keepers are serving him his favorite meals of earthworms, isopods and snails. Compared to other frogs in his genus, Muñoz said, Romeo has an especially musical breeding call and has helped teach biologists about the natural history of Sehuencas water frogs over the years.

To learn more about Romeo, visit www.match.com/Romeo

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Photo: Romeo illustration by Eric Losh
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View Romeo’s Match profile

Global Wildlife Conservation
GWC conserves the diversity of life on Earth by safeguarding wildlands, protecting wildlife and supporting guardians. We maximize our impact through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery, and conservation leadership cultivation. Learn more at http://globalwildlife.org

About Match
Founded in 1995, Match was the original dating website and pioneer of the online dating industry. Today, more than 20 years later, Match operates leading subscription-based online dating sites in 25 countries, eight languages and five continents and is responsible for more dates, relationships and marriages than any other website. Match is an operating business of Match Group (Nasdaq: MTCH) and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.  For more information, visit http://www.match.com.

Bolivian Amphibian Initiative
Bolivian amphibian initiative (BAI) a project of the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny is working for the conservation of Bolivian amphibians, obtaining information about endangered species; raising awareness about the amphibian situation in local communities and society in general; working building capacity, training young conservationist and local community members that afterwards will collaborate in conservation efforts. For some species time is running out and BAI has implemented the captive breeding program trying to keep and breed these critically endangered species like Romeo for future reintroductions. Visit us http://bolivianamphibianinitiative.org/

Lindsay Renick Mayer
Global Wildlife Conservation

Amy Canaday

About the Author

Lindsay Renick Mayer

Lindsay Renick Mayer

Lindsay is the associate director of communications for Global Wildlife Conservation and has a particular interest in leveraging communications to inspire conservation action. Lindsay is passionate about species-based conservation and finding compelling ways to tell stories that demonstrate the value of all of the planet’s critters, big and microscopic.