Eben Kirksey is a permanent faculty member in Environmental Humanities at UNSW Australia and a Visiting Research Scholar at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the editor of
Happiness and Glass
While multiple species of ontological amphibians were proliferating in Panama, many other species of literal amphibians became imperiled as a result of commercial development and an emergent fungal disease. Conservationists began building a global assemblage of biosecure holding facilities and cryogenic banks, the Amphibian Ark, to protect endangered animals from the fungus. Mechanized ecosystems, architectures of immunology, were assembled to hold endangered animals in perpetuity. Frogs who experience the ambivalent grace of salvation probably do not share the subjective feelings of happiness sometimes experienced by their human caretakers. Scores of Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki) were airlifted out of Panama in 1999, the same year the U.S. military occupation was coming to an end. A bioart installation, The Utopia for the Golden Frog, brought attention to a captive breeding program in the United States that has been killing “excess” frogs rather than repatriating them to Panama.