By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All is going according to plan. A critically endangered frog and toad breeding program in Ecuador, with local ties, is reaching a milestone.

For nearly 10 years, the Philadelphia Zoo has been collaborating with partners in Ecuador in a frog and toad conservation through captive breeding program.

The Zoo’s Amphibian Conservation Biologist, Dr. Carlos Martínez Rivera, says there are 12 critically endangered species being raised.

“They are all frogs and toads. We rescued those amphibians from almost imminent extinction,” Rivera said. “They were either completely gone or people thought they were extinct, and we just happened to stumble upon them while looking for them in the fields.”

Dr. Martínez Rivera and partners have been meeting with landowners and government officials devising plans to re-introduce the amphibians back into their natural habitat and develop a monitoring system.

“We need to ensure that the forest and habitat where they are going to be released at is in good condition, and that it will stay like that for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The sites being selected are protected areas in the mountains where the forest is in good condition. In sites near the city of Cuenca, the team is creating habitats.

Release is expected to begin within six months.