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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 March, 2005, 09:25 GMT
Australia frog hospital to close
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Frogs
Frogs are considered to be environmental barometers
Australia's only frog hospital is closing down due to lack of money.

For the last six-and-a-half years it has treated hundreds of amphibians struck down by illness and injury.

Researchers have said public apathy towards the plight of Australia's frog population has been an important factor in the hospital's demise.

The frog hospital has been operating out of a small flat in the tropical city of Cairns in Queensland.

It has been mending broken legs and treating various ailments. It can be an expensive exercise.

Vets' fees, medicine, as well as live insects for meals can result in a bill of $100 for a single patient.

The centre has been funded entirely by public donations.

The money has now run out and this unique sanctuary for diseased and distressed amphibians has been forced to close.

Frogs as barometers

The hospital's curator, Deborah Pergolotti, believes that Australians are far less willing to show compassion and generosity towards sick frogs than koalas and kangaroos, those iconic marsupials.

Over the years, more than 1,500 frogs have been treated at the clinic.

Many were attacked by cats and dogs, while it is believed that some were tortured by school children with sticks.

Others were accidentally squashed by flower-pots or choked by pesticides.

Experts consider frogs to be important environmental barometers.

For example, half a dozen were recently diagnosed with skin cancer in Queensland, while others have unidentified tumours.

There are approximately 200 species of frogs in Australia.

It is thought this diverse group has existed here for 150 million years.



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