In fact, it serves a noble purpose, according to its sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez. “We just thought it was a great way for students to engage,” Pérez told the Sacramento Bee.
His bill to name the red-legged frog the official state amphibian was the result of an educational exercise: elementary school students in his district identified its connection to the state as part of a project to research California history. The frog allegedly rose to fame as the star of the Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” a short story that is celebrated in California to this day.
Twenty states already have such a titleholder, but California would be the first to make the red-legged frog, scientifically identified as rana draytonii, according to a review of a list maintained by Netstate.com. (There’s already some duplication, apparently: Ohio and South Carolina both claim the spotted salamander; Georgia and Louisiana claim the Green treefrog.)