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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Rare frog survives epic boat trip
The frog that s-toad-away
Brian Lara the frog after his long journey by banana ship
One of the world's rarest frogs has survived a 4,000-mile journey in the refrigerated hull of a banana ship - eventually finding safety at a UK port.

The 1.5-inch Caribbean frog turned up in Portsmouth after its voyage from Jamaica on the MV Prince of Tides.

The amphibian's species is so rare it does not even have a common name.

Rescuers at Portsmouth's Blue Reef Aquarium named the finger-sized West Indian tree frog Lara after West Indies Cricket team captain Brian Lara.

Lucky find

Portsmouth port health officer David Jones said it was the first time such a rare specimen had been discovered at the port.

"We handle about 470,000 tonnes of bananas each year and this is the first time anything like this has been found," he said.

"Apparently a random pallet was chosen to check the quality of the consignment and, during the checking process, someone found the little frog clinging to a hand of bananas."

Brian Lara, born in Trinidad and Tobago
Cricketer Brian Lara provided the inspiration for the frog's name

The frog, used to tropical conditions, got loaded into the cargo ship's temperature-controlled hold.

Blue Reef aquarist Mat Clarke said the constant temperature was central to the frog's survival.

"The hold was kept at a constant temperature of 14 degrees for the entire 11-day voyage," he said.

"When it arrived it was in a poor condition but it has gradually been improving and is now eating on its own."

Lara's species was discovered in 1843. It was given the Latin name of "Osteopilus Fitzinger".



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