Once upon a time, only about 75 adult dusky gopher frogs were left in the wild. In 2001, the frog was placed on the endangered species list. It's currently listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

On Oct. 12, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium played a part in working to change the frog’s status. The zoo, along with collaborators from the Memphis Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Dallas Zoo and Birmingham Zoo, released 291 zoo-raised froglets into a restored habitat in Mississippi.

It was the third successful release since last year, when 98 froglets were released in the habitat.

According to Jessi Krebs, the Omaha zoo’s curator of amphibians and reptiles, humans should care about saving this species because frogs are vital to human existence.

“They eat mosquito eggs and larvae, and those mosquitoes can carry diseases that kill human beings,” Krebs said. “It’s a natural way to control pests.”

The froglets are produced through an in-vitro fertilization process and tagged in the thigh with small, fluorescent tags.

The dusky gopher frog, also referred to as the Mississippi gopher frog, is the fourth species to be released by the Omaha Zoo’s Amphibian Conservation Area that began in 2007.

Krebs said the next step of the initiative is to release tadpoles into the habitat next spring.