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Endangered Animals

California Condor
Source: USFWS

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What are Endangered Animals?

Endangered animals are animals that are in danger of becoming extinct. This means that there will be no more of these animals alive on earth. An animal is considered endangered or "threatened" when there are very few of them alive.

Some animals are more threatened than others. To keep track of how at risk of becoming extinct a species may be, scientists categorize the level of risk with a different name. From the most threatened animal to least threatened these names are:

1) critically endangered
2) endangered
3) vulnerable

There are also some animals that only exist in captivity (for example in a zoo). These animals are called "extinct in the wild".

What are some of the most endangered animals?

These are animals that are categorized as Critically Endangered. Here is just a sampling from the list:

Black Rhinoceros - There are only a few black rhinos left. They mostly live in Western Africa. They are mostly threatened due to hunters killing them for their horns.

Red Wolf - The red wolf originally lived in the Southeastern United States. There are only a few hundred left, most of them living in captivity.

Sea Otter
Source: USFWS
Others include the Siberian Tiger, Florida Panther, Mountain Gorilla, California Condor, and the Giant Ibis.

Some "endangered" animals include the Sea Otter, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Giant Panda, Blue Whale, Albatross, and the Snow Leopard.

Some "vulnerable" animals include the Lion, Cheetah, Hippo, Dingo, Polar Bear, Humpback Whale, and the Macaroni and Royal Penguins.

How are endangered animals protected?

Many countries throughout the world have laws that protect endangered species. It is often a crime to kill or injure an endangered or protected animal. In the United States there are a number of laws that protect endangered animals. These laws are part of the Endangered Species Act which was signed into law by President Nixon in 1973. These laws help protect the animals and their habitat. They also include programs to help animals recover called Recovery Plans. The main agencies that enforce the laws and help protect the animals are the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Throughout the world there are also wildlife or nature preserves. These preserves are large areas of land where animals and their habitat are protected. Development is very limited or prevented altogether on the lands. Hunting is also limited or illegal. Critically endangered animals are often protected by keeping some of them captive and breeding them in captivity. This helps scientist to keep the species alive and also helps them study the animals.

Scientists also study the animals in the wild in order to understand what may be affecting their population. With good science, scientists may be able to help a species of animal survive extinction.

Red Wolf
Source: USFWS
More on endangered species:
Amphibians in Danger
Endangered Animals
How Animals Become Extinct
Wildlife Conservation

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