Fabulous Frogs: Manchester Museum hops into focus for Sir David Attenborough’s ‘ribbiting’ documentary

Sir David Attenborough hopped into Manchester Museum’s Vivarium to film a new series about the fabulous lives of exotic frogs, which airs tonight.

Dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians, the Vivarium is home to the largest and most important collection of Cost Rican frogs outside Costa Rica.

Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology, spent a great deal of time with Attenborough during the filming.

“It was an amazing experience. It is a pleasure to work with him,” he told MM. “He is someone that I hold in very high regard.”

After completing the nature documentary, Attenborough sent Mr Gray a personal letter saying he had never seen such a fantastic collection of frogs before.

ALL EYES ON ME: the Vivarium is home to the largest collection of Cost Rican frogs outside Costa Rica

It is hoped the series, Fabulous Frogs, will raise awareness of the Vivarium’s projects to help restore the populations of critically endangered frog species and their natural habitat – the rain forests.

“It is about promoting the frogs and conserving them in a direct way and an indirect way,” explained Mr Gray.

“It is not just about helping with the breeding program, it is about conserving the place they live.”

One of the main ongoing projects is the Lemur Leaf Frog conservation project.

The Vivarium is the first place to breed this species in captivity in a bid to lessen the extremely high risk of its extinction.

ON YOUR HEAD SON: Sir David had much fun and frolics with frogs

This venture includes every aspect of conservation from raising funds to support the Lemur Leaf Frog in Costa Rica and to support research on them.

“It is a holistic project,” Mr Gray told MM. “It is not just promoting them in the public eye. It is not just conserving them in the wild. It is not just conserving them with the breeding programme.

“It is about research and education.”

DID YOU GET MY BEST SIDE? Manchester tropical frogs pose up 

Education and getting children involved and interested in, not just frogs but all animals is another of the museum’s priorities.

“The little kids in Manchester will probably never get to go to the rain forest but hopefully this experience will stay with them and they will continue their interest in the animals,” Mr Gray said.

The chance to see and work with the potential future herpetologists is rewarding for Mr Gray who knows just how significant a childhood interest can be.

He told MM he has always been fascinated by frogs, from an early age.

“At the age of six or seven is you asked me what I wanted to do, it is exactly what I am doing now. Instead of playing football I would be at the pond collecting insects and newts,” He said.

HELLO HUMAN: The exotic frog tucks in to dinner (Image courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, with thanks)

One young man who certainly seems to be following in Mr Gray’s footsteps is 18-year-old Thomas Hughes.

He went in to visit the vivarium when he was at school, eventually started to help out and has now been accepted to do his degree in zoology at Manchester University.

Mr Gray concluded that is exactly what the Vivarium is there for.

“The animals are there to inspire people and so the conservation projects we do are almost on behalf of the Manchester community,” he said.

HOLD TIGHT: Mr Gray hopes the Vivarium inspires animal lovers

“It is really something that we can be seen to be giving something back for all the damage we are doing to the world. We are paying back on behalf of society.”

Fabulous Frogs will air tonight on BBC 2 at 9:00pm.

To find out more about the Lemur Leaf Frog Project, click here.

Alternatively, you can read up on more of the Vivarium’s projects at the Frog Blog.

Main image courtesy of BBC, via YouTube, with thanks.

Related Articles