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Germany

German Toads Get Their Own Tunnels

Budget shortfalls or not, frogs and toads can get to the other side of the road safely in Berlin. The government has allocated €225,000 for toad tunnels.

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Make way. It's my tunnel.

Germany's Social Democratic-Green coalition isn't faring very well in opinion polls, but it can expect support from at least one quarter come election time -- Berlin's frogs and toads. The little green critters have been given their own underground crossings in a Berlin suburb.

Germany's government may be scrounging to save money wherever it can by closing kindergartens and municipal swimming pools, but it's spending €225,000 ($281,000) for frog and toad tunnels under roads in the suburb of Lübars in an effort to win approval for building a new diplomatic school in Berlin.

The foreign ministry -- run by Germany's most prominent Green Party politician, Joschka Fischer -- said Thursday that Berlin authorities insisted the government compensate for building the school in a conservation area by investing in environmental protection at another location. Under the deal, five 10-meter (33-foot) tunnels for frogs and toads are to be built by July. The project will offer safe passage to an estimated 4,000 amphibians each year, ministry officials said.

Germany is trying to trim spending and social programs to shrink a budget deficit that has exceeded European Union deficit limits for the past two years. The foreign ministry said it will make up the money spent on toad tunnels with budget savings elsewhere.