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Warts And All: In Defense Of Frogs

Considered the ugliest of them all, frogs are far more helpful to the environment than cuddly kittens or charming princes. It's time to start showing some serious amphibian amour!

Future Pince Charming
Future Pince Charming
Martha Gutiérrez

There are some animal species that seem destined for rejection. Typically, they are the ones that look very different from us, and are often arbitrarily classified as ugly animals.

In the United States and Britain, animal protection activists have coined a word to define the discrimination by humans against certain species of animals: “specism.”

These prejudicial attitudes towards our Animal Kingdom brothers can take different forms. But rest assured that what is pretty or ugly to us will not necessarily mean the same to them. Of course a rat would not think of another rat as ugly, nor would a toad judge another toad in such a way. Each animal has a natural value and every creature has an intrinsic value.

If having purely subjective and shallow opinions were the end of it, it would not be so serious. The problem is that the animals considered “ugly” are commonly harassed, damaged, decimated, and annihilated. This comes at a high cost to them — but it can also cause serious harm to the environment.

Such is the case of amphibians, a species where well-known animals such as frogs and toads are found. These beings have a very positive impact on the environment. As such, they urgently need to be shielded from the continuous danger they face due to the lack of care and respect they receive from humans.

People are certainly more likely to show mercy for a poor dog being attacked by a group of kids throwing stones at it than for a toad the kids are "just having fun" with frying under a magnifying glass.

Fortunately, there are people who do rise in defense of amphibians. For example, Carlos Fernández Balboa, of the Argentina Wildlife Foundation, author of the Guide To Defend Amphibians.

Many amphibians are unknown to people who use the words “toad” or “frog” interchangeably to refer to almost all of the species, Fernández Balboa explains. Through his work, we come to know that there are some 4,150 different amphibian species in the world that quietly benefit the environment in mountain, forest, and lake areas. Closer to home, they also feed on insects that cause us problems in our backyards and gardens.

Amphibians are very useful to the environmental equilibrium. Knowing them better, more profoundly, is the first step to affording them the justice they are due.

And if ecological motivations fail to change your mind, maybe it's worth imagining an amphibian version of that famous fairy tale, where this time the mamma frog croaks out the story to her little ones about how, after the kiss ... the ugly Prince turned into a handsome frog!

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Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
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