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'Superfungus' threatens last Panamanian golden frogs

Cocooned from the outside world, some 200 critically endangered golden frogs are living a sheltered existence in Panama, protected from a devastating fungus that threatens to wipe out a third of the country's amphibian species—a situation scientists describe as "critical."

The frogs, which are yellow or gold with black spots, enjoy a controlled environment inside fish tanks installed at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) facility in Gamboa, north of Panama City.

Though endemic to the lush Central American country, no Panamanian golden frog can be seen in its natural habitat, threatened as it is by a so-called "superfungus" that has decimated amphibians in the wild.

According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published this week, the planet has lost more than two-thirds of its vertebrates in less than 50 years.

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