Can You Guess How Many Animals Are on the US Endangered Species List?

Written by Melissa Breyer

According to a new survey, most people think there are around 100 endangered species – which is way off.

Most of us know that there is such a thing as the Endangered Species List in the United States. Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, species may be listed as “endangered” or “threatened,” and thus make up a sad who’s who of animals whose numbers aren’t looking so great.

But when it comes down to how much we know about these animals – well, we don’t seem to know that much. Sure, we know that bald eagles and humpback whales are endangered – but that was a trick sentence, because bald eagles and humpback whales are no longer on the list. Yet according to a survey by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) about half of Americans believe that bald eagles are still endangered; the same goes for humpback whales. (The bald eagle was delisted in 2007, the humpback whale in 2016 – though it seems to me like they should get lifelong status as a courtesy.)

All told, there are currently 1,459 animals on the list; most Americans think there are around 100. Although 87 percent of those asked in the AZA survey said they would be willing to help save animals from extinction, zero of the 1,002 respondents knew the correct number of species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

When survey takers were asked if “saola” and “vaquita” were types of food, clothing brands or endangered animals, 68 percent thought that the saola was a food or clothing brand; 64 percent thought the same for the vaquita.

(For the record, the vaquita is a desperately endangered porpoise in the Gulf of California. With fewer than 30 vaquitas left in the wild, the “panda of the sea” is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. The saola antelope is often referred to as “the last remaining unicorn” because of its dwindling numbers and elusiveness.)

And while people can be forgiven for not knowing about vaquitas and soalas, many were surprised to learn about the status of some of our most beloved members of the wildlife clan. Twenty-eight percent of respondents were surprised to learn that giraffes and some hummingbirds are endangered, like the Honduran emerald hummingbird (Amazilia luciae). Other surprises included salmon and cheetahs – only half of the people asked knew that cheetahs are endangered, while in fact they have declined to just 10 percent of their original population size. (The list currently includes 631 records for international species.)

Of course there is no way to know every animal on the list, but we could all be a bit more familiar with the species that are suffering. To that end, it is relatively easy to check in at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, which among other things, has an ongoing series of videos about featured species.

For more about the survey, visit the AZA.

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: Ed Dunens/Flickr


AL Lim25 days ago

probably everything is endangered, except dogs cats rats and humans

Michele B
Michele B26 days ago

even one is one too many

Leo C
Leo C26 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

David C
David C26 days ago

too many

Beryl L
Beryl Ludwig27 days ago

To David Daisy, Homo sapiens are far from endangered. Although the use of their own brains is very neglected.

Beryl L
Beryl Ludwig27 days ago

Don't forget bees and insects that pollinate who are being killed by the millions with products such as Roundup thanks to Dow, Dupont, Bayer, and Syngenta

Winn A
Winnie A27 days ago


Sherri S
Sherri S27 days ago

Sadly, I'm sure the list will continue to grow as the human population soars to astronomical numbers.

Lorraine A
Lorraine A27 days ago

Actually it wouldn't surprise me if every animal wasn't on the endangered list considering how mankind likes to kill everything!

Chrissie R
Chrissie R27 days ago

My "guess" was way off too...but the fact remains there are WAAAAY too many endangered/threatened species and it's all through the fault of your's truly...the human species.