Trinity Favazza, 10, of Shelby Township, stands beside her family’s frog terrarium at her Shelby Township home Nov. 9. Favazza is the mayor of the Detroit Zoo’s Amphibiville.

Trinity Favazza, 10, of Shelby Township, stands beside her family’s frog terrarium at her Shelby Township home Nov. 9. Favazza is the mayor of the Detroit Zoo’s Amphibiville.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Shelby fifth-grader heads into second year as mayor of Amphibiville

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 20, 2017

  Favazza holds a plush of the Japanese giant salamander, the newest exhibit at the Detroit Zoo’s Amphibiville. The Japanese giant salamander exhibit is slated to open later this year.

Favazza holds a plush of the Japanese giant salamander, the newest exhibit at the Detroit Zoo’s Amphibiville. The Japanese giant salamander exhibit is slated to open later this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — As election results poured in from around the nation earlier this month, 10-year-old Trinity Favazza, of Shelby Township, moved into the second year of her two-year term as mayor of Amphibiville, a 2-acre wetland village that houses the National Amphibian Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo.

Favazza won an essay contest to assume her role, which she continues to take seriously.

The fifth-grader has educated her classmates at Trinity Lutheran School in Utica about amphibians, has encouraged neighbors to use natural fertilizer, has cleaned up wetlands and has promoted her efforts via social media.

This year, she became one of the youngest participants to become FrogWatch USA-certified at the Detroit Zoo. The program educates participants on how to identify frogs to help with conservation efforts.

“I’ve been going to Holland Ponds and I’ve been cleaning up there, and I have been doing frog watches,” she said. “Ever since I was little, my dad and I used to go out in fields to study amphibians. I love the way they are always so unique and have their own patterns and the way they can adapt to habitats.”

This month, she signed her first “executive order” calling for legislators to vote “no” on Michigan Senate Bill 316. The bill, which aims to “repeal certain regulations on the taking of frogs,” passed in the Senate June 8 and was referred to a second reading in the Michigan House Nov. 1.

Next year, she said, she plans to paint amphibians on rocks and spread them around for the community to find, learn more about the conservation of amphibians, and hide for others.

Angel Favazza, Trinity’s mother, said Trinity helped her grandmother install a frog and koi pond in her grandmother’s backyard.

“(The rock painting campaign) was her idea. It was really smart,” Angel said. “She’s really embraced this idea of being mayor of Amphibiville. You can be little, but you can change the world. We couldn’t be more proud.”

Scott Carter, the zoo’s chief life sciences officer, praised Trinity’s appeals to a younger and wider audience about the importance of amphibian conservation.

“There are things we can all do,” Carter said. “We can think about what we pour down our drains. Most communities (have events where people can) return paint and other chemicals.”

He encouraged the public to check out the educational and interactive wetland exhibit at the Detroit Zoo.

“The newest thing is the big new space for the Japanese giant salamander, (which can grow to be) like 4 feet long. That’ll be done around the holidays,” Carter said. “I think when most people go through, they don’t take the time. A lot of amphibians are really brightly colored, but others are cryptic.”

He encouraged zoo-goers to take the time to find the less-visible frogs because “it is worth doing.”

“It’s been a big year, not only for Trinity, but for the National Amphibian Conservation Center,” Ron Kagan, CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society said, in a statement. “With nearly half of the world’s 7,660 known amphibian species at risk due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, infectious diseases and other factors, we are making significant progress in reversing the global extinction crisis these animals are facing.”

According to a press release, 5,615 critically endangered Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles bred at the Detroit Zoo were released in the El Tallonal biological reserve in Puerto Rico earlier this year, joining more than 47,000 tadpoles of the same species released into the wild in the past decade.

Also this year, nearly 700 Wyoming toad tadpoles bred at the zoo were released into a protected wetland in the Laramie Basin in Wyoming, bringing the total to more than 8,000 tadpoles, toadlets and toads released since the program began in 1995, according to the release.

The National Amphibian Conservation Center is a world-renowned center for amphibian conservation, care, exhibition and research. The facility features a wide array of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians. 

For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.