Zoos and aquariums around America are raising awareness of the global plight amphibians are facing by marking this Leap Day the official start of 2008's "Year of the Frog." At least 120 species of frogs, toads, salamanders, and other amphibians have become extinct since 1980, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), no thanks to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and emergent diseases. Unless immediate action is taken, researchers say, as many as half of the 6,000 remaining species may soon head for that great lily pad in the sky.

Conservation efforts include the Amphibian Ark, a global initiative to save hundreds of critically endangered amphibians from extinction by captive breeding them in zoos, and then eventually reintroducing them into the wild. One success story: The Kihansi spray toad, once found only in an isolated river gorge in Tanzania, but is now one of the several endangered amphibian species being propagated at the WCS's zoos.

Sign up at the American Association for Zoos and Aquarium's Year of the Frog Web site to find out how you can support the campaign, including getting your school to use virtual frog dissections. Plus, look out for a host of family-friendly, amphibian-themed activities that will be kicking off at your local zoos this weekend. ::Year of the Frog

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