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Posted on March 6, 2014 | 3:23 p.m.

Saturday is ‘Princess Day at Santa Barbara Zoo

Children encouraged to show support for frogs, toads and other amphibians

Source: Julia McHugh for the Santa Barbara Zoo

Little princesses are invited to don their tiaras and visit the Santa Barbara Zoo Saturday to show their support for the world’s frogs, toads, and other amphibians facing possible extinction.

Frog kissing is not required at this annual event that features real live princesses like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, along with fairies, frogs and toads.

Princess Day will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Santa Barbara Zoo members only are allowed early admission at 9 a.m.).

Princess Day features a “Kiss a Frog” booth, plus face painting, animal encounters, music and dancing, bounce houses, games, crafts and more, all with a princess theme.

Costumes are encouraged, and boys are also welcome, be they dressed as knights, princes, cowboys, pirates or astronauts.

Cosmetologists in training at the Paul Mitchell School of Santa Barbara will be on-hand to provide free make-overs for the young princesses, including makeup, hair and nails.

“This is a fun way to talk about a serious issue,” says Santa Barbara Zoo CEO Rich Block. “The world’s amphibians are in trouble, and there are no easy answers to stem the shocking drop in their populations. Accredited zoos and aquariums are working to address the issues in the wild, and are creating temporary captive ‘lifeboats’ of some of the most threatened species.”

He adds: “Conservation isn’t only for adults. Kids, even ones in shiny, pink princess dresses, can and do make a difference.”

Since Princess Day debuted at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2009, other zoos have picked up the “scepter” for amphibian conservation.

Variations of the Princess Day have been staged at the Georgia Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Calgary Zoo, Oregon Zoo and Knoxville Zoo.

The event is free with Zoo admission: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors aged 65 and up, $10 for children 2-12, and children under 2 free. Parking is $6.

What Do Crowns Have to Do with Frogs?

While the major culprit has historically been habitat loss and degradation, many of the declines and extinctions previously referred to as enigmatic are now being attributed to the rapidly dispersing infectious fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which is causing population and species extinctions at an alarming rate.

Managed populations and “lifeboats” of amphibians may become the only conservation hope for many species faced with imminent extinction.

Zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are committed to ensuring the survival of all amphibian species and are already an active force in amphibian conservation.

Their “Year of the Frog” in 2008 began a campaign that continues today, with AZA providing conservation and education resources, subsidizing financial support, managing a citizen science program, and maintaining partnerships with like-minded government and nongovernment agencies to raise awareness of the amphibian crisis and promote amphibian conservation.

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