Pendlebury Pupils

Recently I had the pleasure of delivering another very special animal session to pupils from the Pendlebury Centre.  It was great to meet the staff again and conduct the session for all the pupils concerned, who were a wonderful group of young people and who really seemed to get such a lot from meeting our animals up close.  The Pendlebury Centre is one of three Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) for secondary aged students in Stockport.

The Centre is outstanding in providing the necessary support needed by many young people. It provides full-time placements for 40 students with a variety of needs, and it was so good to support this visit to Manchester Museum. Thanks to all the staff and pupils for their enthusiasm and interest in our creatures  – and appreciating the benefits they can bring to all. We look very much look forward to your next visit!




New Year New Frogs


Lemur leaf frog helping with our record keeping (Agalychnis lemur) ©Matthew O’Donnell

Nothing quite brings in the new year like a group of newly metamorphosed baby Lemur leaf frogs (Agalychnis lemur)! These tiny froglets represent a new bloodline for the program studbook, which helps us manage the ever growing ex-situ population of this critically endangered species.

These fantastic little frogs were spawned last year and spent the next few months as tadpoles, on display in the Vivarium. They began to sprout legs and emerge from the water in November and have been growing rapidly on a varied diet of fruit flies and crickets, supplemented with extra vitamins and minerals.


Once these hungry little frogs get big enough they will be distributed between our partner organisations in Project Lemur Frog, Bristol Zoo and Nordens Ark. I have been lucky enough to visit the specialist facilities at both of these institutions and know just how well they will be looked after. Further securing the future for this fascinating frog.


A group of young Lemur leaf frogs (Agalychnis lemur) resting under a leaf ©Matthew O’Donnell

Every new frog born here at Manchester Museum is very special, and Lemur leaf frogs are no exception! I’m sure 2018 will be another great year for frog conservation here in the Vivarium, we will be sure to keep you up to date with all the exciting work we are involved in.

Project Report                      Frogs for the Ark

ACE day at ASE

Straight back into teaching after a great Christmas break, Amy McDowall and I conducted a session for international delegates at the The Annual Conference of the Association for Science Education (ASE) yesterday. This fabulous conference is currently taking place at Liverpool University and offers a unique opportunity for all teachers of science to develop practical ideas as well as providing a useful insight into some cutting-edge research.

Amy co-ordinates all our Primary learning at the Museum. She is super enthusiastic, and also being extremely organised kindly made all the arrangements for us to attend and contribute to this years conference programme, which runs over 4 days.  Yesterday was a great day for us both, not only being able to jointly contribute and meet like-minded delegates from far away as Australia, but also providing us with new ways of developing our animal-based science sessions back at the museum.

Two such programmes, our Rainforest Investigators and Habitat Explorers sessions for primary schools, we combined and showcased for the delegates yesterday – and had them fully participating in our sustainability and amphibian conservation-focused workshop. It went down very well and was enjoyed by all involved – and we are already looking forward to supporting this great event again in the future!

Further details of the conference session available soon: Learning Manchester Blog

ASE Conference

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from us all in the Vivarium at Manchester Museum! x

Last orders

Frogflyer_front copyStill thinking of what to give that hard to buy for person at Christmas?..

Perhaps Sponsoring a critically endangered frog on their behalf might be just the ticket!?

Lemur Frog Sponsorship also includes a quality book on Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison, and the opportunity for a behind the scenes vivarium visit, plus a special letter of thanks together with a limited edition print and conservation pack will be sent out directly to your person of choice!

Don’t miss the date –  last day for Frog Sponsorship this side of Christmas is 17th December!





From frogs and lizards to snowy blizzards :)

For the past 20 years I’ve had a print of a favourite painting, carried with me from place to place. It depicts the most incredible garden imaginable, a contrast of rainforest, horticultural splendour, and Costa Rican animals that are ingrained in my soul – tropical birds, insects, and of course some of the most unusual amphibians on the planet! I now see it on my wall as I go down stairs each morning, the picture is a part of me.

Well, last week I was shocked to see the original.. hanging on a wall at the very place it depicts.. Wilson Botanical Garden. The incredible garden is owned by the Organisation for Tropical Studies and is part of Las Cruces tropical field station in Costa Rica. Its somewhere I’ve really wanted to visit for a long time and it certainly lived up to my expectations.

Set 1200m high on a pacific coastal mountain range in Costa Rica, Las Cruces is just 5km from Panama. The array of tropical plants in the collection here was just incredible, surrounded by a rainforest dripping with ferns, mosses, palms, and bromeliads.

The temperature was a little cooler than I am used to in Costa Rica, but the topography allows for high diversity of flora and fauna – including an estimated 2,000 species of plants, more than 400 birds and 113 mammal species. Getting there took a little longer than expected but negotiating the Cerro de la Muerte (‘Mountain of Death’) road was well worth it – not least providing the most amazing close up view of a beautiful rare Quetzal and some absolutely stunning hummingbirds.

The special visit also provided a great opportunity to find an interesting rare and endangered tree frog that only occurs in very few places – Ptychohyla legleri.

Ptychohyla legleri (c) Andrew Gray

I was lucky enough to see an adult pair, and also their tadpoles, which live in only the cleanest natural spring water. Here they stick to the rocks with their sucker-like mouthparts and never stop feeding, hungry day and night. I kind of know that feeling.. maybe I was a Leglers tree frog in another life! 🙂  One things for sure, on reflection after just returning to a snowy UK, that mid-elevation rainforest in Costa Rica really didn’t seem that cold after all..

If you go to Costa Rica I highly recommend visiting Las Cruces and the Wilson Botanical Garden, you certainly won’t be disappointed. If you are a student interested in ecology, this is the place for you. OTS offers some wonderful opportunities to study at its research stations supported by leading biologists and top zoologists.


From Snowy Blizzards to Frogs and Lizards: A Canadian at the Vivarium

My name is Katherine and I have the great pleasure of introducing myself as the new Curatorial Assistant at the Manchester Museum Vivarium. I recently completed my Masters of Research in Biosciences at Cardiff University where I studied the prey diversity associated with the diet of the Asian water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in Malaysian Borneo.

My dissertation gave me the unique opportunity to study wildlife in the tropics, however my previous herpetological experience, and indeed my roots, come from a very different landscape.

Home for me is a small city in central Canada (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), where I completed my undergraduate studies in Environmental Biology. I went on to research reptiles and amphibians on the prairies with the Canadian Wildlife Services before moving to Vancouver, where I held the position of Aquarium Biologist Generalist at the Vancouver Aquarium. In addition to field work and husbandry experience, I’ve also had the good fortune of building upon my passion for education and public engagement, both through the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation ecology camps, and Vancouver’s Science World.

I very much look forward to both working with the host of incredible animals within the Vivarium collection, and the chance to engage with students who visit the museum, and share my enthusiasm for the conservation of the wealth of diversity on our planet. Thank you Manchester for the warm welcome!