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Giant Frogs Approved For Jumping Contest

March 15, 1990

ANGELS CAMP, Calif. (AP) _ Giant African frogs able to leap 30 feet in a single bound got the go-ahead to compete in the Calaveras County frog jump inspired by a Mark Twain tale.

The nine Calaveras County Fair directors, acting on a request from Seattle animal collector Andy Koffman, voted unanimously Wednesday to let the African Goliaths take part in the 62nd Annual Jumping Frog Jubilee May 17-20.

Koffman’s frogs are up to 10 times bigger than the domestic variety normally entered, and other competitors complained they would wreck the contest.

But fair official Buck King said: ″If he wants to abide by our rules, then let him jump. I think Mark Twain is up there right now looking down and laughing.″

The contest in this community 150 miles from San Francisco was inspired by Twain’s short story about a frog that wouldn’t jump because its belly was filled with lead shot.

The current record is held by a one-pound frog, Rosie the Ribiter, who jumped more than 21 feet - in three hops - in 1985.

Gene Fasano, who represents a jump team from Gustine in the San Joaquin Valley, said allowing the African Goliaths to compete ″ruins the tradition of the frog jump. It’s unfair.″

The big frogs are on the state’s ″dangerous animals″ register and require special exemptions to be allowed into the state. But a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game said officials would issue a permit.

Koffman, who keeps the animals in a 1,500-gallon tank in the basement of his home, wants to bring 30 frogs in, but officials may limit him to 10.

″We feel it’s much easier to keep track of 10 individuals,″ said Lew Davis, a biologist with the state Food and Agriculture Department.

Koffman said the African frogs weigh from 2 pounds to 9.7 pounds.

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