The Vivarium is particularly notable for its large collection of Costa Rican Frogs, and the museum has been responsible for establishing important captive breeding programmes for some of the country’s most Critically Endangered species.
One example of this is the programme initiated for the Lemur Leaf Frog, one of the world’s most Critically Endangered amphibians. Live specimens of this species maintained at The Manchester Museum are from the last remaining population in Costa Rica, which are on the very brink of extinction. In 2001 the Manchester Museum initiated the first captive breeding programme for this species and over the years 400 young bred at the Museum have been distributed to National and International Zoos, including Bristol Zoo in England, The Vancouver Aquarium, Canada, and The Atlanta Botanical Gardens in the US.
Leaf frogs exhibit unusual characteristics and behaviours that set them apart from many amphibians, and maintaining them in captivity this has provided many new research opportunities to investigate them that would otherwise have been impossible. Curatorial staff are highly involved with supporting amphibian-related studies that aims to provide a much better understanding of the animals, help in their captive care, and specifically aid their conservation. All the studies are completely non-invasive and normally combine fieldwork with captive observations. On an annual basis curatorial staff also supervise a variety of undergraduate and graduate student projects in the department and sometimes abroad, as well as leading expeditions to remote areas of the world to search for and work with rare frogs.