male puerto rican crested toad in natural habitat

One Giant Leap: Disney Helps Save Rare Toad  

As part of World Frog Day, Disney is leaping into action to save a small frog species from teetering into extinction. This mission is contributing to a species success story well beyond the many lily pads across Walt Disney World. As of 2023, Disney’s animal care team has sent over 10,000 tadpoles to aid in the repopulation of the rare native species, the Puerto Rican crested toad.

puerto rican crested toads in natural habitat
The female Puerto Rican crested toad sits next to a smaller male.

Challenges in the Wild

As one popular frog once said, it’s not easy being green. Since the 1920’s, the population of Puerto Rican crested toads has declined due to invasive marine toads, pollution, habitat loss and new development taking place in Puerto Rico.

Like many frogs and toads, Puerto Rican crested toads are considered “indicator” species, meaning they can provide early warnings for endangered ecosystems. They can also provide medical benefits to help fight microbes and viruses in humans.

This species of toad is critically endangered and was the first amphibian to be placed on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1984. Animal experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and other AZA-accredited facilities, collaborate to operate successful specialized breeding programs for endangered and threatened species, like the Puerto Rican crested toad. 

Unique Breeding Program 

Since 2011, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been involved in the program that not only breeds the toads but transports thousands of tiny tadpoles to the island. Breeding typically takes place in May, when the rainy season begins. During this time, Puerto Rican crested toads can lay up to 15,000 eggs.

tadpoles at walt disney world
Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles

The program is now managed by the Puerto Rican Crested toad Conservancy in collaboration with experts around the country, including Tayler, an animal keeper at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“What is so rewarding about this job is that we get to be part of the Puerto Rican crested toad breeding program and watch the tadpoles go to Puerto Rico to be introduced into the wild,” said Tayler.

Disney cast member Taylor smiles at toad
Animal keeper Tayler observes a Puerto Rican crested toad at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

The introduction program is one of the many ways Disney is working to safeguard vulnerable species and inspire future generations to put possibility into practice and inspire optimism for a brighter, more sustainable future.

One last “ribbit-ing” thought: 

Did you know that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads?

While they have a lot in common, some differences include the body size and shape, skin texture and even how they lay their eggs.  The Puerto Rican crested toad stands out primarily for the unique head crest near their beautiful eyes. The toads primarily live in dry forests searching and scavenging for insects. Female Puerto Rican crested toads are also noticeably larger than males.

To learn more about Puerto Rican crested toads be sure to hop on over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or visit to learn about other ways Disney is helping to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet.