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The Story of Sylvia’s Frog


Film produced by Katie Garrett (@katieggarrett)

Cruziohyla sylviae


Paintings for Paignton

This week we had Luke Harding and Katy Upton from Paignton Zoo visit to collect ten Harlequin Toad specimens we are providing them with. The stunning specimens, which each look like they have been individually painted, are an unusual form of Atelopus spumarius. Paignton Zoo in Devon is now the only institution in the UK to keep these special South American toads.

Manchester Museum has previously maintained several species of Atelopus and this South American species was acquired to help us further develop our husbandry skills for keeping a related Central American species.

It’s a real pleasure for us to provide these specimens, which we can all learn from, in support of the great amphibian-related work already being conducted at Paignton Zoo. Knowing how committed Luke and Katy are to the amphibian conservation work at Paignton we feel confident the specimens will do very well there. It was really great to see them both again and we hope this will support the development of further links between our institutions.

Paignton Zoo Amphibian Ark Experience


Redwood visit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOut of all our fabulous teaching sessions there is one that is even more close to my heart – our Snails and Tails session. There are no snails actually involved – but certainly animals with tails and lots and lots of smiles!

This session was developed to support children with special educational requirements, allowing them to have a personal and very close up encounter with some of our most unusual vivarium creatures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s just amazing how the children and animals connect and what a wonderful experience the sessions can be for all involved.  This week we had a visit from the pupils of Redwood School, a pioneering secondary special school situated in Rochdale, Lancashire. The session was carried in our new space – Sylvia’s Place (named after the wallpaper we had made especially for it which features Sylvia’s Tree Frog 🙂                     It was truly magical.



Frog Forensics

PCR poster2This autumn Manchester Museum’s Vivarium in collaboration with Manchester University Stopford labs has been thrilled to pilot our first ever amphibian based genetics session for high school and college students. This session aims to encourage students to take the leap into the world of “frog forensics”, or amphibian DNA analysis, by introducing them to basic lab based tools such as PCR and gel electrophoresis. Using preserved specimens from our own unique collection, students learn about collecting and comparing DNA in order to identify different species.

The Frog PCR session brings environmental conservation and state of the art laboratory techniques together to inspire students of all academic backgrounds to engage in hands-on science!

Frog PCR Workshop

To Inspire

As half the Museum is officially closed due to our exciting new development, and many of our teaching areas are now under wraps (so not just the mummies:), we thought it would be cool to liberate some of our vivarium animals and for once take them a little further afield..

To Chorley, in mid Lancashire! And so we did.

INSPIRE Chorley is an Onside Youth Zone that came about through the success of Bolton Lads and Girls Club. It’s an amazing place run by amazing people, with support for the youth of the community at its core. As with the creation of several other Onside Youth Zones within towns across the North West, this inspiring and affordable place for young people to go to in their leisure time makes a real difference.

It offers young people real opportunities to gain, increase and develop their skills, knowledge, self awareness, confidence, and most importantly respect for themselves and others.


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Inspire at Chorley has a wide range of programmes aimed at different age groups and last week they offered a special holiday club for all those off school in the area. It was great fun for all and we were very proud to be there in support of the great work being done at INSPIRE. A huge thanks to Kasia and all involved!


INSPIRE Youth Zone Chorley

Choosing A Climate


The Yellow eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis annae) © Matthew O’Donnell

The earth’s climate is changing, however, the rate and direction of this change is different across much of the planet. Most regions are warming with global average surface temperature rising by 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. This seemingly small rise is driving dramatic shifts in our weather.

We can all see the effect of a warm hot summer, when our fruit and vegetable prices begin to rise. The lack of rainfall and extended heat waves this summer have negatively impacted the UK’s farmland, just watch the price of potatoes over the coming months! Although its not all bad news surely? We’re now producing more wine than ever, and exotic species of birds and butterflies are now beginning to call the UK home.

There will be many opportunists, who’s adaptability and mobility will allow them to take advantage of a world in flux, conquering new territories and  outcompeting native species to survive. There are lots of other species however, which have evolved and specialised to  fill very specific niches, which are vulnerable to climate change. In the Vivarium we house a number of amphibians who are increasingly finding themselves homeless due to climate change.


Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur). One of many species of amphibians impacted by climate change. © Matthew O’Donnell

Some of our most well known inhabitants, such as the yellow eyed leaf frogs (Agalychnis annae) and Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur) are found in the highlands of Costa Rica, trapped by rising temperatures in the lowlands, too hot for them to handle, and inhospitable peaks above them. As the highlands begin to warm these sensitive frogs must find new areas to live. Unfortunately frogs can not take flight and depart for more suitable habitats, just like polar bears – climate changes most high profile victim, these animals are restricted to ever smaller patches of habitat, inching their way towards extinction.

As with most cases, climate change seems to be the final nail in the coffin, that if left unchecked could push many stressed ecosystems over the edge. Species that are already declining due to diseases such as the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), habitat destruction, pollution and pesticides do not have the space or resilience to escape or adapt to a changing climate.

All is not lost, we still have time to pull the brakes and halt this process before we loose so much. Findings from the the authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) #SR15, stress that we have 12 years to limit temperature rises to between 1.5-2°C. When for example a rise of just 2°C would cause the complete eradication of coral reefs, it is easy to see why the worlds top climate scientists are mobilising.


To learn more about how to get involved and help make a difference follow the hashtag #GreenGB and learn more about the work Manchester Museum is involved in at all levels in helping to tackle climate change.

If not for ourselves, we owe it to those who are not as fortunate as us, those people, plants and animals that will feel the brunt of the coming changes and not be able to choose their climate.

Climate change workshop summary                    CLIMATE-CHANGE-FACILITATORS-PACK

Learning with Lucy

Lovell Lecture


Sylvia’s Tree Frog, C. sylviae © Katie Garrett

On the 17th October I will have the privilege of conducting an invited Lovell Lecture, presented with my friend and colleague Professor Amanda Bamford. The public lecture series is named in honour of Sir Bernard Lovell, the Founder and first Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the evening in Cheshire promises to be something very special. Dinner is available, and to find out more about the event and how to book please follow the link below:

The World of Frogs:
Manchester Leaping into Action