"I never eat at Rio Grande and now I will be sure not to!"
--Jen Connors; Fairfax, VA
The Problem With Frog Legs
Sign the petition
Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants
Join a Protest at Uncle Julio's restaurants
Protest stories and photos - April 30, 2010
Protest stories and photos - July 2 & 3, 2010
Protest stories and photos - September 4th, 2010
Email Uncle Julio's CEO: email@example.com
Or give him a call today at 972-554-6886
Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants contribute to the worldwide extinction of amphibian species by selling frog legs, the trade of which contributes to the depletion of wild frog populations, and the spread of infectious diseases and invasive species. The company is engaging in environmentally irresponsible business practices, and refuses to address the issue. Thus Save The Frogs endorses a full boycott of all Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants. Save The Frogs will be staging peaceful (but visible!) protests at the restaurants beginning Save The Frogs Day and continuing indefinitely until the restaurant chain ceases their ecologically damaging frog leg sales.
Uncle Julio's is a multi-million dollar chain of 16 Mexican food restaurants located throughout TX, VA, MD, FL, IL and GA. Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants are not Mexican-owned.
The restaurants sell American Bullfrogs farm-raised in China. These "Made in China" bullfrogs are regularly infected with the deadly chytrid fungus, which has driven up to 100 amphibian species to complete extinction in recent years. The bullfrogs are also harmful invasive species that eat native frogs. As such, Uncle Julio's is contributing to the mass extinction of amphibians worldwide. To date, Uncle Julio's executives have refused to reply to any of our emails, phone calls or letters.
"I have mentioned the restaurant to other parents at school and told them about the problem with frog legs and the effect on native species. They were not aware this was happening and have agreed to not patronize that restaurant. I know some will share the word with other families." M. Braden, Dallas, TX
"That's just bad management. I don't have a problem with eating frogs, but if it comes at the price of impacting the natural integrity of the world around us, find another way to do it. I'm sure the menu is good enough to stand without a gimmic like frog's legs anyways."
--Nelson B., Litchfield, CT
As Uncle Julio's has refused to acknowledge our multiple letters and phone messages to them regarding the ecological damage being caused by their frog legs trade, Save The Frogs is organizing protests at Uncle Julio's restaurants in TX, VA, MD, GA, FL, and IL. Please fill out this form if you would like to join, organize or promote an upcoming protest at an Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurant in your area. Our goal is to distribute educational information and make sure potential customers avoid the restaurant.
The picture below is the backside of the 4x6" info cards that SAVE THE FROGS! supporters will be distributing in the area surrounding the restaurants.
Ask for Todd Conger or Nancy West
Tell them you will not be eating at Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants until and unless they stop serving frog legs. Tell them that their restaurants are contributing to the worldwide extinction of amphibians. Be pleasant!
Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can send them a pleasant but persuasive letter:
Mr. Todd Conger, CEO
Uncle Julio's Corporation
1101 N. Union Bower, Suite 160
Irving, Texas 75061
And be sure to SIGN THIS PETITION!
If you live in the vicinity of one of an Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurant, please post this 8.5x11" flyer at your school, office or on community bulletin boards. Just click on the image below to open a PDF you can download and print.
The FDA has banned the importation of frog legs from all but one Bangladeshi company due to Salmonella. Shipments from companies in China and 7 other Asian countries have also been prohibited. Why is Uncle Julios taking a chance at infecting customers with Salmonella? Read more here.
We chose to begin this campaign with Uncle Julio's for several reasons. To begin with, the restaurants are consistently full, and meal prices average $15 and up, meaning the corporation is wealthy. Therefore, they will not go bankrupt should they remove frogs their menu (especially as they are a Mexican restaurant, not a French restaurant). Further, they have 16 locations, meaning that a successful campaign will have a significant effect. Finally, they have consistently refused to reply to our phone calls, emails or Federal Express letters, and that is irresponsible and reprehensible behavior.
In 2005, Save The Frogs Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger sent Uncle Julio's CEO Mr. Joseph Shashy a letter informing him of the ecological damage being caused by Uncle Julio's participation in the frog leg trade. Mr. Shashy never responded.
On 23-December-2009, Dr. Kriger sent Mr. Shashy (who has since been replaced by CEO Tod Conger) the following letter, via Federal Express. This letter was signed for and received, but also elicited no response from Uncle Julio's:
Dear Mr. Shashy,
I have been a customer of Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande restaurants for well over fifteen years. I am also the Founder & Executive Director of Save The Frogs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to amphibian conservation. Nearly 2,000 amphibian species are on the verge of extinction, and 200 species have completely disappeared in recent decades. This constitutes the largest mass extinction event in 65 million years. There is still time to take action, however, to save the frogs.
As Uncle Julio’s is a large corporation participating in the sale of frog legs, I would like to address two key issues: (1) the overharvesting of wild animals for food, and (2) the spread of infectious diseases through trade routes. Tens of millions of frogs are transported inter-continentally on an annual basis. While a large proportion of animals are sourced from captive populations, many are still being taken from the wild, which can cripple healthy populations (Schlaepfer et al. 2005, attached).
Furthermore, research has shown definitively that the international market in live frogs (be they wild-caught or captive-reared) is a major contributor to the spread of the lethal fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Mazzoni et al. 2003 and Schloegel et al. 2009, attached). This fungus is the causal agent of the disease chytridiomycosis, which has driven approximately 100 amphibian species to complete extinction in recent decades, and is thus the single greatest cause of ongoing amphibian declines and extinctions. It is of vast importance to prevent the further spread of this disease.
While Uncle Julio’s can take precautions to reduce the spread of chytridiomycosis by instituting disease-testing and quarantines, these measures will be unlikely to prevent disease spread in the long-term (Kriger & Hero 2009, attached). This is for several reasons: (1) the scientific infrastructure does not exist to conduct disease diagnostic testing and/or quarantines on the millions of frogs involved in the frog legs trade; (2) no disease diagnostic test is perfect, and thus some infected frogs that undergo disease testing will inevitably and incorrectly be declared disease-free; and (3) there are no known ways to eradicate amphibian diseases from the wild. Once a disease arrives, there is nothing we can do to mitigate the damage. Further, North American Bullfrogs (the primary frog used in the food trade worldwide) regularly escape their rearing farms and establish populations outside their natural range, eating and competing with native amphibians, and also spreading diseases in the country in which they are reared.
As such, the only certain way to ensure that Uncle Julio’s is not a direct contributor to the global amphibian extinction crisis is to remove frog legs from your restaurant’s menus.
In this era of corporate responsibility, Uncle Julio’s could receive significant positive publicity by becoming the first major restaurant chain in the world to halt sales of amphibians for environmental reasons. Save The Frogs can assist in this manner through a joint press release, an announcement to our supporters, a page on our website, and by certifying Uncle Julio’s “Frog-Friendly”.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to working with you on this matter of high importance.
Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.
On 29-January-2010, Dr. Kriger sent Uncle Julio's CEO the following letter, via Federal Express. It was signed for and received, but again Uncle Julio's failed to reply.
Dear Mr. Shashy,
Please find attached a copy of a letter I sent to you via Federal Express, and which was signed as received by Uncle Julio’s employee JMITCHELL in Irving, TX on December 31st, 2009 at 9:06am. I never received a response from Uncle Julio’s regarding this letter.
I would appreciate receiving a reply from you by February 28th. This is a very important issue that if addressed properly could lead to a significant improvement in the condition of the Earth’s environment, as well as providing both our organizations with valuable positive publicity.
Thank you very much,
Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.
On 16-March-2010, Dr. Kriger sent a fourth letter to Uncle Julio's. This letter was sent via Federal Express, signed for and received, but received no response:
Dear Mr. Shashy,
My family and I have been frequent customers of Uncle Julio’s restaurants for over fifteen years. On December 23rd, 2009 I sent you a letter via Federal Express, which was signed by Uncle Julio’s employee JMITCHELL in Irving, TX at 9:06am on December 31st, 2009. On January 29, 2010 I sent you another letter via Federal Express. This was signed by Uncle Julio’s employee FFERNANDO in Irving, TX at 8:45am on February 3, 2010. Neither letter elicited a response.
As thoroughly explained in both those letters and the scientific publications contained therein, the trade and transport of frogs for food is undoubtedly a significant contributor to the mass extinction of amphibians that is currently taking place around the world. The continued extinction of amphibians will result in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans. It is Uncle Julio’s responsibility to ensure that its trade practices are not to the detriment of the Earth’s life support systems.
Mr. Shashy, Uncle Julio’s/Rio Grande is a Mexican food restaurant, not a frog legs restaurant. Few people go to your restaurants with the prior intent to eat frog legs. Rather, those who order frog legs most likely do so as a novelty or a joke. Removing frog legs from your restaurants menus would be unlikely to reduce revenues, as your customers would simply order something else from the menu.
SAVE THE FROGS has begun to mobilize a variety of environmental, animal welfare and student groups throughout TX, VA, MD, FL, GA and IL. We are preparing newsletters and press releases highlighting Uncle Julio’s role in global amphibian extinctions and its inadequate response to the issue at hand. These will be distributed to our supporters, our mailing list subscribers, and a wide range of media contacts throughout the country.
This campaign, should it proceed, would divert precious time and resources from both our organizations. On the contrary, Uncle Julio’s agreement to completely cease sales of frog legs would undoubtedly result in valuable positive publicity for both our organizations, and would serve as important precedent for other restaurants involved in frog leg sales. This would be a significant victory for global amphibian conservation efforts. Please feel free to contact me anytime to discuss this issue.
Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.
Dr. Kriger contacted two restaurant branch managers to advise them of the situation and suggest they contact corporate headquarters to have them contact Save The Frogs. After confirming that both managers did request corporate headquarters contact Save The Frogs, and still not having heard from headquarters, Dr. Kriger left two phone messages with Uncle Julio's: one with Nancy West, the highest ranking official who was present in the offices, and one with CEO Todd Conger. To date, Uncle Julio's has not responded.
Uncle Julio's Rio Grande staff had been out of the office vacationing for the Easter weekend...but SAVE THE FROGS! supporters were hard at work filling up Uncle Julio's Facebook Page with comments about the restaurant chain's deplorable environmental practices!
We were going to ask you to become a fan of Uncle Julio's Facebook Page and leave them your own comment, but Uncle Julio has now shut down their page: no new fans allowed and no more ability for fans to post to their page!
This is a small but important victory. The harder it is to advertise their restaurants the better, and now they undeniably know that there actions are causing environmental damage, and that SAVE THE FROGS cannot be ignored.
Oh yes, please go become a fan of the SAVE THE FROGS! Facebook Page and suggest the page to your friends as well!
By Save The Frogs Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger
Jail me in a small pen with sick frogs jumping all over me.
Chop off my legs and skin me.
Freeze me and send me to the other side of the planet.
Cover me in flour and then throw me in a pan of boiling fat.
Put me on a plate and serve me to a loud drunk guy,
Who bites his teeth into me while people laugh.
At an Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurant near you.