A TikTok “frog army” has racked up millions of likes but the potential consequences of the bizarre stunt are no joke, experts say.
In February of this year, a young TikTok user who claims to be based in the UK started building out a “frog army” after noticing “some type of eggs in a shallow pond near his home”.
In recent videos, he claimed to have gathered more than 1.4 million eggs that have hatched into tadpoles in a backyard pool he built.
“I wanted to create the largest frog army in history,” he said in one video. “Next year I will create a giant pond for 10 million frogs.”
Also this spring, another TikTok user claimed to have released 100 million ladybugs in Central Park in New York City. In later posts, he claimed he had been served a lawsuit in response and had fled the US.
Racking up hundreds of millions of views as commenters egged them on, both users have continued to escalate their stunts, promising more releases of larger numbers of animals. They’ve even hinted at meeting up.
The massive popularity of the videos has scientists concerned.
The “frog army” leader” now has more than 2 million followers and over 20 million cumulative likes across his page. The “lady bug raid” conductor has more than 42 million views on his videos.
“It makes me cringe,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Relocating species like frogs and butterflies can have grave impacts, Curry said. “Instead of helping, [These TikTok users] are actually hurting the animals they’re releasing and all the animals in the environment that they’re releasing them into – it’s creating a vector for disease and invasive species,” she said.
Scientists say if true, the frog release is alarming given that human relocation of frogs is a top threat to the species. One fungus introduced by humans redistributing amphibians has caused a “mass extinction” event, wiping out more than 90 species of frogs.
“It’s the law of unintended consequences,” said Chris Nagano, who worked 27 years as an endangered species biologist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “I have no doubt this person may have thought he was doing a good thing, but he may actually be driving these populations to extinction.”
Experts are concerned that the way TikTok operates is exacerbating the problem.
— Arlong (@ramseyboltin) June 8, 2022