PRCT conservation efforts originally started in 1980, when Dr. Juan Rivero, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, collected four northern crested toads and donated them to the Puerto Rico Zoological Gardens. The toads reproduced at the zoo and their offspring were sent to the Buffalo and Brookfield Zoos. In 1985, twenty toadlets were collected from Guánica Commonwealth Forest by the PRDNER and were sent to Toronto Zoo. Northern and southern populations were managed separately in captivity and these toads and their offspring formed the nucleus of the AZA SSP population.
Reintroduction efforts began as a modest effort by a few individuals and four zoological institutions when little was known about the natural history and husbandry requirements for the species. Between 1982 and 1989, less than 1,300 number of toadlets were released in northern Quebradillas and Cambalache and southern Guánica Commonwealth Forest. None of these populations are believed to have been successfully established. Protocols were later adjusted by releasing tadpoles instead of toadlets to reduce the likelihood of predation and give developing tadpoles/toads the opportunity to imprint to the ponds and return as adults to breed.
By 1992, reintroduction efforts expanded significantly with the construction of an artificial pond in Manglillo Grande, which could be monitored and maintained by the PRDNER and accommodate thousands of captive bred tadpoles. Over time additional information was learned regarding the biology and captive husbandry requirements for the species, allowing more institutions to participate in recovery efforts by successfully breeding PRCT and releasing offspring. Additional reintroduction ponds were constructed with partners and now over 300,000 tadpoles have been sent in Puerto Rico by SSP participants to establish new populations at six sites across the island.
Video of newly released toadlets feeding: