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Plan to save an endangered frog in Puerto Rico involves barking at it to make it pee

Photo: R. Andrew Odum (Getty Images)

Look, you don’t need us to tell you the outlook for the planet and the majority of its inhabitants isn’t exactly the rosiest picture these days. Knowing this, it’s important to find the faintest glimmers of hope in an otherwise dark ecological erathose instances when humans use their ingenuity, intellect, and technology to forge a way forward, and perhaps even undo some of the damage we’ve wrought. Take, for instance, this lovely example described in an Associated Press article last week, which finds scientists barking like dogs at endangered male Puerto Rican crested toads to make them piss themselves in an effort to save the species.

While screaming at frogs to induce piss may sound like something frustrated scientists do when they’ve run out of other ideas, there’s actually a method to this madness. As the article notes, toads release their semen in their urine, which generally isn’t hard to find after picking one up, seeing as how they probably assume they’re about to be devoured whenever a human adult grabs them. Some crested toads are braver than others, though, and require coaxing for that precious, precious amphibian semen.

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“It’s kind of weird, but if you hold them in your hand and look at them and bark at them like a dog, they will pee,” explained Diane Barber, Fort Worth Zoo’s ectotherms curator.

The urine-semen is then collected, frozen with liquid nitrogen, and sent to lady toads for insemination. So far, over 300 crested toads have been birthed thanks to scientists’ spook-induced sex, with more on the way to help stave off the species’ extinction. The report also notes zoologists named the first toad born out of the process, Olaf, “named in honor of the frozen semen he came from.”

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Disney really does rule every facet of our lives now, don’t they?

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Andrew Paul

Andrew Paul's work is recently featured by Rolling Stone, GQ, The Forward, and The Believer, as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency and TNY's Daily Shouts.