Golden Frog Collaborates with Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

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Golden Frog Collaborates with Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

June 5, 2016

We’re thrilled to announce we’re supporting the Panama Amphibian Rescue Conservation Project, managed by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and their efforts to save the critically endangered Panamanian golden frog. As you might guess from our name, we have a strong connection to the Panamanian golden frog of Panama—our company was actually named after the golden frog. This frog is critically endangered, and the rescue project is actively searching for a cure for the chytrid fungus that is wiping it (and many other amphibians) out. We’re supporting this cause through an upfront gift and three-month matching campaign, where we’ll match every dollar donated in support of this cause. Keep reading to find out the story behind our name, why the golden frog is endangered, why we’re supporting this cause and—most importantly—how you can get involved. Donate Now

The Golden Frog Story

Golden Frog Co-CEOs Ron and Carolyn Yokubaitis were Peace Corps volunteers in Brazil during the late 1960s. While travelling through Central America after their service they stopped in Panama, where they visited the Golden Frog Coffee Bar. Back in the United States, Ron and Carolyn went on to raise five sons and found several Internet businesses over the years.

In 2008 they returned to Panama for the Latin American Internet Conference, and wondered if the Golden Frog Coffee Bar was still around. The coffee bar was no longer in business, but they discovered a fun fact: the golden frog is the national animal of Panama. Even better, they learned that the golden frog also has a very unique way of communicating with other frogs – it waves to them! They decided to name their newest Internet business after the Golden Frog of Panama.

Today Golden Frog stands for online freedom, privacy and security, and embodies the same passion and freedom as in 1970 when Ron and Carolyn first discovered the Golden Frog Coffee Bar. Through our products and our advocacy, we continue to fight for causes we believe in and to support groups fighting for these important causes.

The Panamanian Golden Frog’s Endangered Status

In 1999, Smithsonian’s National Zoo scientists working with a researcher from the University of Maine described a new fungus that causes the skin disease chytridiomycosis Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that is deadly to amphibians. The spread of this disease (also referred to as “chytrid”) is believed to be responsible for amphibian extinctions on several continents.

The mission of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is to rescue and establish assurance colonies of amphibian species that are in extreme danger of extinction throughout Panama – including two species of the golden frog. They also work on developing methods to reduce the impact of the chytrid fungus, with a goal of one day reintroducing captive amphibians into the wild. They have two facilities in Panama, the Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center at the Nispero Zoo, which cares for 12 endangered species including both varieties of the golden frog.

Research efforts focus on searching for a cure or applied solution to the amphibian chytrid problem that will allow them to reintroduce golden frogs back into the wild. This involves researching why some individuals survive from an infection with Bd while others do not, which has yielded some promising results thus far. SCBI scientists Brian Gratwicke and Rob Fleischer are working with Smithsonian post-doctoral fellow Matthew Becker to determine if it’s possible to predict which frogs will survive exposure to the chytrid fungus simply by analyzing a skin swab. The team also is developing probiotics that could be applied to Panamanian golden frogs that might help them resist infection. They study the microbiome of the frogs, their immune response, genetics and skin chemistry to determine how some individuals survive an infection, whereas others die.

You can learn more about the scientific efforts and methodologies, as well as what’s been successful so far, on the Amphibian Rescue Project’s official website: http://amphibianrescue.org/.

Why We’re Supporting this Cause

Among all the good causes out there, there are several reasons we choose to support the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project:

  • Mission Alignment: We see a strong mission alignment with the Smithsonian. Their mission is “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” and our mission is to “Provide people with privacy, security and access to a free and open Internet.” As the Smithsonian helps spread knowledge, we help people access information and share knowledge by communicating freely online around the world.
  • Connection to Golden Frog of Panama: Here at Golden Frog, we have a strong connection to the Panamanian golden frog. Our company was named after this frog, and after a coffee bar our co-founders visited travelling in Panama in 1970. As this frog had such a profound impact on Golden Frog, we feel it’s important to support Smithsonian’s efforts to find a cure for the golden frogs.
  • Core Values: One of our core values is “advocacy is important,” meaning we go beyond just selling a product and actively get involved in advocating for policies and issues that we care about. Alongside our many privacy and security policy efforts, we work to support causes we care about – the Panamanian golden frog being one of them.

How You Can Help

As part of our partnership we made an upfront donation to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. We’re now launching a campaign to garner additional donations – and we will match all donations received through this campaign.  You can get involved by making a donation now.

You can also help us spread awareness online and encourage all your friends to donate – simply re-share our posts and make sure to use the hashtag #FightForFrogs in posts of your own. The more people know about the golden frog’s endangered status, the more people we can get involved in raising money for the cure.

Donate Now


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