This art work, Utopia for the Golden Frog, is a demonstration piece to show that individual “citizen scientists” are capable of caring for this species using retrofit everyday artifacts. This climate controlled and biosecure tank can only hold a few adult frogs and since it does not contain water the frogs will not breed. Building on the spirit of Do-It-Yourself Biology, a grassroots scientific movement, this installation is meant to illustrate the possibilities of increasing the carrying capacity of the amphibian conservation network amidst a large scale mass extinction event.
The Utopia for the Golden Frog of Panama is currently on display at Proteus Gowanus, an art gallery in Brooklyn, New York. This installation is on display next to tanks of Xenopus laevis, another species of frog that is indirectly implicated in driving the Golden Frog, and many other amphibians, extinct. Xenopus can carry the pathogenic chytrid fungus in its skin without apparent symptoms. Initially, starting in the 1930s, Xenopus was transported around the world for use as a pregnancy test. Injecting urine from pregnant humans into Xenopus makes it ovulate. Xenopus is also common in the pet trade, sold at many corner stores in America and abroad. Many other organisms, like waterfowl and humans who don’t wash their boots, can also play a role in transporting the chytrid fungus. But, the Xenopus Pregnancy Test is believed to be the original route for transporting this deadly disease around the world.
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