On Saturday, November 18, 2017 the Toronto Zoo hosted their annual FrogWatch and Turtle Tally Appreciation Event to thank the over 480 citizen scientist observers who participated in the programme in 2017. Since the inception of FrogWatch in 1999, over 18,489 observations have been made to date, including 180 observations made in 2017. Turtle Tally on the other hand, began in 2003, and has resulted in over 19,984 observations to date, 997 of those being made in 2017. Together there have been 38,473 observations submitted by citizen scientists in both programmes. The Toronto Zoo would like to send our sincere thanks to all the participants in these programmes for all your volunteer efforts keeping our local frogs and turtles safe.
Every November, Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Programme invites participants of our citizen science programs, Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch Ontario, to join us for a day at the Zoo. There were 125 citizen scientists in attendance at the appreciation event, which included informational booths from Toronto Wildlife Centre, Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and Little RES Q, and presentations from Toronto Zoo Staff, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University as well as public stewards including Flow Learning Group and Conservation Queens. Participants were provided with an overview of accomplishments from the past year and highlights of how their participation contributed to amphibian and reptile conservation projects in Ontario.
Citizen scientists are an important part of conservation as science relies on observation. As more people examine natural phenomena and record and share information, we gain better understanding of the world. An increasing number of scientific inquiries now depend on contributions from people in the community, such as citizen scientists, to help them answer important questions. Citizens now have many opportunities to partake in a wide range of scientific discovery.
“These two flagship Citizen Science programmes allow us to engage our community in scientific research and in direct conservation actions and stewardship initiatives that can be undertaken locally to benefit wildlife,” says Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Amphibians & Reptiles, Toronto Zoo. “Turtle Tally and FrogWatch engage young and old and even seemingly small initiatives make a difference to wildlife.”
I’ve been participating in the program so long that I don’t actually remember it not being a part of my life. Being a part of a citizen science project such as the Adopt-A-Pond programme has made a large impact on my life and ultimately helped me decide and prepare for my career in the environmental field. Citizen scientists are very important to the environmental field, providing valuable data by volunteering their time and skills to special programmes like Adopt-A-Pond.
Jeff Howard, Adopt-A-Pond “Veteran”
In 1989 at the first World Congress of Herpetology, a global gathering to discuss the study of amphibians and reptiles, it became clear that frogs, toads and salamanders – animals that rely on wetland habitat for most or part of their life - were declining worldwide. At the Toronto Zoo, many visitors and local community members expressed their concern over the loss of frogs at their cottage, or the disappearance of toads that once shared their gardens. Eager to take action, a group of zoo staff formed an Amphibian Interest Group to promote water and wetland conservation throughout the Zoo. In 1991, Adopt-A-Pond was chosen as the name for Toronto Zoo’s Wetland Conservation Programme. The programme’s purpose was to engage families in identifying important wetland habitats and the creatures that these habitats support. Its first educational poster “Amphibians are disappearing - If you love to hear frogs sing, no-one wants a silent spring” was sent to over one million school children. With its early success in community wetland conservation, Adopt-A-Pond was awarded the American Zoo Association’s North American Conservation Award in 1997. Partnerships created through Adopt-A-Pond have resulted in the production of a series of unique Ontario focused reptile and amphibian identification guides, frog call CDs, and the Zoo’s first citizen science programme – FrogWatch Ontario. Adopt-A-Pond now maintains an expanded group of citizen science initiatives that include FrogWatch Ontario Registry and Ontario Turtle Tally along with a wide range of conservation projects focusing on local amphibian and reptile species.
Ontario Turtle Tally is a wildly popular programme that encourages nature lovers from all walks of life to report observations of turtles they see in the wild to an online registry at the Zoo, and this data, in turn, helps to implement habitat conservation projects and inspires participants to become advocates for turtles all across the province. Our work with Blanding's turtles is a great representation of how the Turtle Tally programme has directly influenced turtle conservation through the input of citizen scientists. At a site in Southern Ontario we were made aware of large numbers of Blanding's turtles hit on the road through sightings from Turtle Tally participants. We were able to work with local landowners and the road authority to erect permanent wildlife fencing and improve a wildlife crossing under the road to help the turtles move under the road rather than over it. Toronto Zoo staff monitored the Blanding’s Turtles in the area for several years and, not only found them successfully using the crossing structure, but discovered that this relatively unknown population contained over 100 individuals. The information gathered through Turtle Tally is made available to a number of local conservation groups so that they too can use it to help turtles all across the province. Our staff visit communities to provide turtle identification training to those wishing to participate in the programme.
Toronto Zoo Volunteers link more than 13,000 students a year to real-world learning in organized programs set within the living classroom of the Zoo. On behalf of every student who has been inspired by a Zoo Volunteer, and in the spirit of #GivingTuesday approaching on November 28th, we want to say thank you!
Parents, drop off your kids for a fun day at the Zoo while you finish up your holiday shopping. Your child's day will be a wild mix of Zoo tours, an animal encounter, a visit to our giant pandas, crafts, games, and a festive afternoon with snacks and treats. What a great way to fill a winter weekend!
Please Note: Please provide your child with a nut free morning snack and lunch.
Last admission one hour before closing.
The Toronto Zoo is open year round (except Dec. 25th).
CURRENT ADMISSION FEES :
General Admission (13-64): $23
Seniors (65+): $18
Children (3-12): $14
Children (2 and under): FREE
Prices include tax as applicable
Parking is $12 year round
For more information, contact Amanda Chambers at (416) 392-5974.
Events and admission prices subject to change without notice.
For general information visit torontozoo.com