The Detroit Zoo has produced 40 toadlets through a captive breeding program for Wyoming toads that has involved scientists at zoos and universities around the nation.
The endangered species, known as Bufo baxteri, grows to about 2 inches long and weighs less than 30 grams. Its careful camouflage allows the toad to blend into diverse habitats around the Laramie River basin.
"The only ones found in the wild are there because captive breeding programs put them there," Danna Schock, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Amphibians, told The Daily Tribune for a recent story. "The population can't sustain itself."
The toadlets are in a room inside the National Amphibian Conservation Center at the zoo. Shock and her assistant, Becky Johnson, watch over the toads, which now are about the size of a fingernail.
Historically the Wyoming toad's range was a 70-mile radius around Laramie, Wyo. But in the 1970s, it was noticed that the toad was becoming harder to find. Scientists later began breeding toads found southwest of Laramie.
The Detroit Zoo became involved in efforts to save the toad in 1995.
The future of the Detroit Zoo's toadlets won't be known for several months. In the past, they have been sent to other organizations for breeding and to Wyoming, where they are released into monitored and protected areas.
"The encouraging news is that recent wildlife surveys found calling males, healthy adults," Schock said.