He may be named after one of literature’s most famous lovers, but one lonely frog has spent more than a decade searching for romance.
Now love may be around the corner for Romeo, a Sehuencas water frog who has spent the past 10 years as a bachelor and was feared the last of his species.
Following an appeal which saw a Match.com profile set up for the single amphibian and raised 25,000 US dollars, researchers went to a Bolivian cloud forest to search for any other members.
On their recent expedition, a team from the Global Wildlife Conservation and Bolivia’s Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny discovered three males and two females, “a young frog and a Juliet for Romeo”.
The frogs will now be part of a conservation breeding programme at the museum’s K’ayra Center for Research and Conservation of Threatened Amphibians of Bolivia, in a bid to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.
Teresa Camacho Badani, the museum’s chief of herpetology and the expedition leader, said: “It is an incredible feeling to know that, thanks to everyone who believes in true love and donated for Valentine’s Day last year, we have already found a mate for Romeo and can establish a conservation breeding programme with more than a single pair.
“Now the real work begins, we know how to successfully care for this species in captivity, but now we will learn about its reproduction, while also getting back into the field to better understand if any more frogs may be left and if so, how many, where they are, and more about the threats they face.
“With this knowledge we can develop strategies to mitigate the threats to the species’ habitat, while working on a long-term plan to return Romeo’s future babies to their wild home, preventing the extinction of the Sehuencas water frog.”
— Romeo the World's Loneliest Frog (no longer!) (@romeothefrog) January 16, 2019
The Sehuencas water frog is a fully aquatic frog that was once abundant in small streams, rivers and ponds in Bolivia.
A combination of climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, infectious disease and trout which eat frog eggs has resulted a sharp drop of water frogs in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.
Until the latest discovery, the Sehuencas water frog had not been seen in the wild for more than a decade.
The time to introduce @romeothefrog’s lady love is here- meet Juliet, a female Sehuencas Water Frog! Juliet has to wait for her first date with Romeo but it’s safe to say, both frogs (and houses) are thrilled over the match! @MuseodOrbigny#Match4Romeo#ConservationOptimismpic.twitter.com/5Lw83DSdW4
— Global Wildlife Conservation (@Global_Wildlife) January 15, 2019
The team will continue to look for more of the species in other locations in March.
Hesam Hosseini, chief executive of Match, said: “Our entire Match community rallied behind Romeo and his search for love last year.
“We’re thrilled with this outcome for Romeo and his species.
“He now joins the list of millions of ‘members’ who have found meaningful relationships on Match.”