World’s loneliest frog, named Romeo, finds his Juliet, offering hope for species

A Bolivian water frog once thought to be the last of his species has finally found a mate.

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The solitary Sehuencas water frog, named Romeo, has spent the last 10 years in isolation in an aquarium at the Bolivia Natural History Museum, Alcide d'Orbigny, and was thought to be the last Sehuencas on Earth. Since the Sehuencas life span is about 15 years, scientists were getting desperate.

During a recent expedition into a remote rainforest, scientists captured five more Sehuencas, three males and two females, according to the group Global Wildlife Conservation.

One of the females, named Juliet, will meet Romeo after she undergoes a screening and treatment for an infection, called chytridiomycosis. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature said the fungus is wiping out amphibian populations around the world and was thought to have killed off all remaining Sehuencas.

The IUCN said the fungus is seriously threatening the world's amphibian populations and that an estimated 40 percent are in danger of extinction, which is why researchers were overjoyed to find not one, but five Sehuencas in the wild.

The museum’s chief of herpetology, Teresa Camacho Bandani, was on the expedition and discovered the first Sueheuncas in the cloud forest where scientists were searching for a mate for Romeo.

"I got into the pond while the water splashed all over me and dove my hands into the bottom of the pond, where I managed to catch the frog," Bandani told Global Wildlife Conservation. "When I pulled it out, I saw an orange belly and suddenly realized that what I had in my hands was the long-awaited Sehuencas water frog," she said. The researchers soon found four more, and Bandani said she knew right away which female was perfect for Romeo.

"Romeo is really calm and relaxed and doesn't move a whole lot," she told Global Wildlife Conservation. "He's healthy and likes to eat, but he is kind of shy and slow."

Juliet, meanwhile, is “really energetic,” she said. “She swims a lot and she eats a lot and sometimes she tries to escape.”

Romeo made international headlines last year when the museum set up a dating profile for him, in an effort to draw attention to his plight.

Now scientists hoping the pair will eventually mate and will help repopulate the species. All the frogs will eventually be returned to the wild.

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