I’m sure there are a lot of strange looking animals that need our help. Maybe that will be the subject of another post. For now, I’m just sharing the cute ones.
Home: The Arctic
Fun Fact: A polar bear’s coat is not actually white. Its fur just reflects the white snow that surrounds it.
Dangers: As climate change melts the ice that polar bears call home, they are forced to swim for days just to find enough ice to live on. These cuties are still in grave danger as the Earth heats up at an alarming rate. In fact, they were the first species to be added to the Endangered Species Act solely because of climate change.
Home: The rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo
Fun Fact: Orangutans and humans have 97% of their DNA in common.
Dangers: The orangutan’s habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate. Illegal logging, government corruption and the dominance of huge corporations causes massive deforestation in Indonesia. These rainforests are the world’s second largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon. Indonesia has lost almost half of its original forest.
Home: Eastern and Southern Asia
Fun Fact: The largest recoded tiger is a 930 pound Siberian tiger.
Dangers: Tigers face tremendous dangers from poachers, who sell tiger body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Habitat destruction is another serious tiger killer. Three subspecies of tiger have gone extinct within the last 60 years. All five remaining subspecies are highly endangered.
Home: Africa and South Asia
Fun Fact: Elephants can eat up to 440 pounds of food per day and drink 30 gallons of water.
Dangers: Both the African and Asian species of elephant are in danger of extinction due to loss of natural habitat and poaching. This is particularly troubling because elephants are seen as the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine’ for all of the species around them. Since they eat so much, they are also great regulators of surrounding biodiversity.
Home: Central-western and South-western China
Fun Fact: When they are first born, Giant Pandas are only about the size of a stick of butter.
Home: New Guinea’s rainforests
Fun Fact: In order to get from tree to tree, these kangaroos can jump up to 60 feet (18m).
Dangers: Tree Kangaroos are often hunted for meat. This, plus the devastating destruction of their forest habitats, leaves them extremely vulnerable to extinction.
Tambako the Jaguar/flickr
Home: the snowy mountains of Central Asia
Fun Fact: Snow Leopards are crepuscular — they are their most active at dawn and dusk.
Dangers: These cats are hunted for their pelts and their bones, which are used for medicinal purposes. Also, their natural prey are dying off due to increased overgrazing of mountain grasslands.
Grey-Headed Flying Fox
Fun Fact: These vocally sophisticated creatures can communicate over 30 distinct calls.
Dangers: Like most of the animals on this list, the flying fox also faces habitat destruction. They have also been negatively impacted by severe weather, including drought and heat waves in Australia. Not only that, but they often clash with humans both in urban environments and in fruit orchards, and they are often killed.
Home: the sea, obviously
Fun Fact: There are seven species of sea turtle, each of which have been around for 110 million years.
Dangers: Where to begin? Poachers frequently go after sea turtles for their shells, their meat and their eggs, which are considered a delicacy in Central America. While chilling in the ocean, they often get stuck in fishing nets and trawls, and sometimes they accidentally eat floating plastic. When they come to shore to lay their eggs, they get disoriented by coastal lights and sometimes can’t find a place to settle because of all the beachfront development. The list of dangers goes on and on.
Note: this list is not exhaustive! Feel free to add your personal favorites in the comments.
Top photo: Jenny E. Ross/Corbis/flickr
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