BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — California has plenty of emblems such as the bear, the quail, and the redwood. Now, the state has recognized the threatened California red-legged frog as the official state amphibian.

The frog is a famous species, once glamorized by Mark Twain as the frog of the choice at the Calaveras Frog Jump in 1865. It’s the largest native frog in the western United States.

Steve Bobzien, a wildlife biologist with the East Bay Regional Park District, said the gold miners of that time liked the frog as well.

“The gold miners just simply didn’t have enough food to eat. So, they started eating everything they possibly could including tens of thousands of red legged frogs that they found,” Bobzien said.

The legislation making the red-legged frog the state amphibian was the brainchild of some third grade students. Their Assemblyman sponsored the bill, which was approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Save the Frogs, a Berkeley-based nonprofit, is very happy for the red-legged frog after the declaration.

“I am a frog guy for sure. I am definitely passionate about amphibians. But it’s really because I want to save them,” said Michael Starkey, a Save the Frogs ecologist.

The last animal added to the list was the Pacific leatherback sea turtle. It became the state’s official marine reptile in 2012.

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