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March 31, 2011

Hallmark Sells Frogs?

My daughter's birthday was last week, and she received a gift from a friend of mine (who meant well) that rocked our world... and not in a good way.  But we created a happy, rescue situation regardless.  Here's what happened:

Anyone who knows my daughter knows she loves animals.  Which is why she usually receives something revolving around this theme whenever any gift-giving time comes around.  Sometimes it's an adoption certificate (ASPCA, WWF, etc.), a stuffed animal, a real animal, or all the above.  This birthday was an aquatic one.  She received (among other things) a new betta fish from me, and from my friend (again bless her heart, she didn't know what she was doing)...

two African Dwarf Frogs inside a tiny, 1/3 of a gallon plastic prison from Hallmark.

"Hallmark sells frogs?"  Sure enough there was a Hallmark sticker still on the side of the tank.  To be honest my response was "how cute are these guys?", but my daughter gasped and stood transfixed.  My friend and I thought she was in awe.  She wasn't.  "This is so bad!" ( Luckily this reaction didn't phase my friend.)

Now, I'm no herpitologist, but I do work with amphibians and reptiles (the local ones only, obviously) more often than most people do.   And, as a Naturalist, I should've known immediately that this little "habitat" was wrong - like my daughter did.   But this was the last gift my girl opened, and I was caught up in all the "birthday cheer" of the day.

We took a field trip to the local Hallmark.  Several of these aquariums were perched on top of a shelf and sold with picture frames and pretty paper weights (which is what I think this is supposed to be, sadly enough).  They are called "EcoAquariums" and they are made by a company called Wild Creations.  When we started to ask the clerk questions, she said they just got them in 4 days ago and had only just fed them for the first time.  It was pretty busy in there, and I didn't want to be confrontational until I knew more. 

According to the "literature" that came with the frogs:
  • The frogs, the aquarium plant, and the gravel "work in harmony to create a completely filter-free ecosystem habitat."
  • "Your 'EcoAquarium' will clean and condition itself with very little additonal care."
  • Feeding: "2 pellets per frog, 2 times per week" using the frog pellets that came with them.
  • "Change the aquarium water every 3 months" using "room temperature spring water."
  • "Keep water at room temperature, 68-84F/20-29C."
  • The life of the frog is "guaranteed for one year."
That sounded like a bunch of baloney to me.  So I called the experts on exotic frogs:  Fauna in New York.  I described the "EcoAquarium" and here's what they had to say:
  • First, "Hallmark sells frogs?"  Then...
  • Each frog needs a minimum space of 1 gallon.  So, since there's 2, a minimum of 2 gallons is needed.  (They were actually pretty pissed at the fact that there were two fogs in this tiny cube.  One of them said, "There's 2 of them in there?  Oh, that really makes me mad!"). 
  • There's no such thing as a "filter-free" aquarium. Yes, the gravel does help their environment, but it does not keep it clean... especially such a tiny space. The larger the tank, the easier it is to keep clean.  They need a filter.
  • They should be fed at least 3 times per week and with a diverse diet.  Pellets alone are not going to keep them healthy.  They suggested alternating the pellets with frozen blood worms. 
  • Partial water changes should be weekly, not once every 3 months!
  • Using spring water is okay, but it's too soft.  The best water to use is to completely dechlorinate regular tap water. 
  • These are tropical creatures.  And like tropical fish, they need a heater.  Water temperature is always slightly cooler than the air temperature.  So, if your home is set at the minimum 68F/20C, then the water wouldn't be warm enough.  And actually, the frogs need to be in a temperature of about 77F/25C. 
  • They need some place to hide.  These are timid creatures, and being kept out in the open without something to crawl under or into will stress them out. 
  • The average life span in the wild is 15 years.  The average life span in captivity is 5 years.  Hallmark guarantees the life of the frogs for one year!!  The way the frogs are being kept in these "EcoAquariums"... they will only last one year... if they're lucky. 
"So I guess you will want to return them?" 

An obvious first question my friend asked my daughter.  But, No.  If we return them, someone else will buy them, keep them in their cold, filthy prison and they will die.  My daughter's decision - which I support 100% - is to give them a better home.  I spent every bit of my free time this past week making sure I was doing everything I could to make sure these frogs have the best - and longest - possible life from now on.  And in eveything I did, I called/emailed Fauna and/or spoke to the aquarium specialists at my local pet store.  FYI - In case you were wondering, you cannot set these guys free as they are NOT part of your ecosystem (unless you live in the Congo region of Africa). 

But we won't be shopping at Hallmark while these torture devices are still being sold. 

Naturally we never would have bought something like this.  And if I had seen this at Hallmark myself I still would've done some research, made some phone calls, emails, letters, created a blog post, etc.  The post, however, would've been different, but with the same message:

Wild Creations PROMOTES cruelty to animals!

Before Hallmark, there was Brookstone...

After 18 months of protests, thousands of calls and emails, and appearances outside Brookstone stores by a guy in a giant frog costume, Brookstone had finally decided to pull a product they called the "Frog-O-Sphere" (also from Wild Creations) from its shelves. 

PETA started campaigning against the tiny plastic frog prisons after receiving complaints from Brookstone customers and after a whistleblower reported that frogs housed in the tiny 4in.H x4in.W x4in.D plastic boxes were neglected, deprived of veterinary care and adequate food, and kept in filthy water.  The whistleblower told PETA that when frogs became obviously ill and "unsaleable," they were moved to the store's storage rooms, where they wasted away and died. 

PETA's undercover investigation of Wild Creations revealed filthy conditions and deadly neglect.  In some cases, frogs were so hungry that they chewed each other's legs off.  In some other cases, 37 out of 40 frogs died in shipment to the stores after they were left in a container so long that they suffered from heat prostration. 

Now Hallmark is selling them.  Please, please tell Hallmark to stop selling them!
call:  1-800-425-5627
mail:  Hallmark Customer Service, P.O. Box 419034, Mail Drop 216, Kansas City, MO, 64141 US.
No email address is available that I can find.  If you have/know it, please let me know. 

And tell Wild Creations that it's an idiotic idea to throw 2 frogs and some gravel into a container smaller than a shoebox and leave them there their entire lives!
email:  info@wildcreations.com
call:  (843) 448-8880
fax:  (843) 448-8988
mail:  Wild Creations, 1560 Pine Island Rd. unit C, Myrtle Beach, SC, 29577 US.

And now I give you Tom and Jerry in their clean, warm, 3-gallon tank with juicy blood worms in their bellies and a castle fit for a king to hide in!

The boys will be given more room in the near future.  This is what we had on hand, and they're doing fine.    We just wanted them to live happily ever after ASAP.  

If you already are the owner of an EcoAquarium or a Frog-O-Sphere, please give them a better home, but first, get professional advice from your local pet store or contact Fauna.  Do Not transplant them without knowing what you are doing.  And DO NOT leave them where they are! 

The lives of these helpless froggies are depending on you. 
Download PETA's free app.


  1. We even complained to one store because they stocked yoyos that had an insect encased in plastic within the body of the yoyo.

    An insect or not it just did not seem right to do that to something living just for a toy!

    They withdrew them immediately.

  2. Well thankfully they withdrew them. But I can't believe they had them in the first place!

    It's upsetting to know that a life form can get imprisoned just to entertain another life form.

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