The world’s first protests in defense of amphibian populations took part on the 2nd Annual Save The Frogs Day (April 30th, 2010). Richard Scordato of Black & White recently interviewed SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger about the protests. The transcript of this interview follows.
1. When did you start your protest of Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande and why?
Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande restaurants sell frog legs, the trade of which is responsible for the depletion of wild frog populations, the spread of harmful infectious diseases, and the spread of invasive species. Amphibians are rapidly disappearing worldwide, and Americans consume 20% of the world’s frog legs. There is no reason for a high-end Tex-Mex restaurant to be a contributor to the global amphibian extinction crisis. I began writing Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande headquarters in December 2009. They failed to respond to any of my three Federal Express letters, multiple emails or phone calls, so SAVE THE FROGS! began organizing protests in mid-April.
2. How have you protested Rio Grande? Have you been successful?
The world’s first protests in defense of frog populations took place at four of their restaurants (Dallas, Arlington, VA, Fairfax, VA and Bethesda, MD) on the 2nd Annual Save The Frogs Day, April 30th 2010, which was the largest day of amphibian education and conservation action in the planet’s history, with 85 events in 21 countries.
The goal of the protests are two-fold: (1) educate passersby about amphibian extinctions and (2) decrease the restaurant chain’s profits until they have no choice but to remove frog legs from their menus. Unfortunately, many businesses are like Rio Grande, in that their profits are their sole motivating factor, with no regard for the environment or the communities in which they exist.
The Save The Frogs Day protests were successful at educating hundreds of passersby about the problems associated with the frog legs trade. The protests were also successful in that they cost Rio Grande money. SAVE THE FROGS! supporters diverted many potential diners from eating at the restaurants, and many of the restaurants hired private security guards for the day. At the Bethesda location, eight security guards followed our protesters around for 6 hours, even though we had made it clear to the restaurants in advance that they would be peaceful protests.
3. What are the general ramifications of Rio Grande’s serving frog leg’s?
The American Bullfrogs they sell are farm-raised in China. Such frog farms pack hundreds to thousands of frogs in close quarters, where they are known to contract and spread a deadly chytrid fungus that has driven up to 100 amphibian species to complete extinction worldwide. The bullfrogs also regularly escape their holding pens and wreak damage on native frog populations, as they are large frogs that eat anything they can fit in their mouths.
4. What are your plans for protesting Rio Grande further?
We will continue to protest at Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande restaurants indefinitely until the business either gets sold, goes bankrupt, or removes frog legs from their menus. Clearly the latter would be the optimal solution for all parties.
5. Have your protested any other business’s about their mistreatment of frogs?
Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande is the first such business, but they will likely not be the last. However, we would never protest any business without first informing them of the problems they are creating, and offering alternatives.