What is Endangered Species Day, and what you can do

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Photo Credit: Sean K

More than ever before, people are looking at the world around them and wondering how to improve it. Growing concerns over the environment and fear for the future of many animals has led to the creation of Endangered Species Day. Saving threatened species is the goal, and in 2019 more people than ever got involved in events and activities aimed at highlighting the continued threats to the animal kingdom. Taking place every year, the next Endangered Species Day is on May 15th, 2020. It has become increasingly popular, and now schools, communities, and individuals are all committed to taking part and getting involved.

Do we need Endangered Species Day?

The 24-hour news cycle is a seemingly never-ending barrage of negativity and bad news about the state of the planet. It sometimes feels like there is another extinct species every day. While the negatives of the mainstream media are hard to avoid, the message continues to be stark: saving animals from extinction needs to be a priority.

What animals are endangered?

Many animals that have been on the edge of extinction have been saved, largely thanks to the Endangered Species Act (although the act has been noticeably diluted recently). Island foxes in California, bald eagles, humpback whales, and whooping cranes are no longer on the endangered species list thanks to the hard work of zoos and conservationists. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. There are still over 200 animals and plants that are listed as being in danger of extinction, and they are relying on us for their continued survival. Some of these animals include:

  • Grizzly bears
  • Peregrine falcons
  • Florida manatees
  • Black-footed ferrets

If we want a planet that embraces more diversity and the beautiful splendor of the natural world, then action is needed to prevent humanity from being the cause of yet more extinctions. Endangered Species Day is the perfect time to take that action.

Ideas for teachers and parents

It’s the youngest members of humanity who will be dealing with the future of the earth, and teachers and parents have a huge wealth of resources available when they need to come up with ideas for Endangered Species Day. If you’re a teacher of younger children, then think about getting your classes interested in the day. You could get them to create craft projects that showcase animal life, with ideas like:

  • Suncatchers
  • Paper mosaics
  • Handprints
  • Masks
  • Finger puppets

Older classes can be encouraged to get involved by embracing their creative side as well. They could:

  • Write poems or stories about an animal that is on the endangered species list
  • Invent a new species and draw what it looks like
  • Write a letter or email to their local politicians to talk about local species that need protection
  • Make a poster to raise awareness of the day
  • Write a comic

There is no end to the creative activities that schools can set as assignments to tie into Endangered Species Day. Talk to your classes about the day and why it’s so important that we encourage the protection of at-risk animals, and get them involved in as many ways as you can.

Visit a zoo

A good zoo is aware of the need for conservation, and many zoos play a large role in conservation efforts around the world. Visiting your local zoo is a good way to help show your support for the work that they do, and you get to see some amazing animals at the same time. Zoos are a critical component of modern conservation. That’s because good zoos will:

  • Encourage reproduction: When a zoo has a baby animal, it’s a big deal. That’s not just because visitors love them and will specifically visit a zoo when a cute new baby animal has been born. Every newborn animal of a species that is endangered simply adds to the number of animals that exist and gives hope for the future of that species. The Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida is a good example of this, thanks to the recent endangered species births such as reticulated giraffe and the birth of a baby white rhino. Some rhinos are highly endangered, and all species are dwindling quickly in the wild, so the arrival of this particular baby is good news for everyone.
  • Be the only home for species: There are 39 species that are currently listed as being extinct in the wild. That means that they only exist thanks to the hard work and perseverance of zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens. Without the work of these facilities, many of these species would be gone forever.
  • Have ‘insurance populations’: Zoos can provide a safety net for endangered species. They have the option to take their animals and reintroduce them into the wild where they are most needed to help increase populations. Animal reintroduction, however, can be challenging. Yes!
  • Encourage people to take action: A visit to a zoo can spark an interest in conservation. Regardless of age, anyone visiting a zoo gets a chance to observe and sometimes interact with the animals that live there. These unique experiences can provide a reason to take action to donate to worthy causes or to engage in conservation efforts.

Conservation isn’t easy, but celebrating it can be a chance to make more people aware of the dangers facing the animal kingdom. When at-risk animals face threats from a variety of social, ecological, and global sources, a more unified day of action is proving to be very effective at making a real difference. Conservation and repopulation of endangered species is possible, and the more people that take part in Endangered Species Day, the more likely that a shift in attitude can happen. Saving the world isn’t just about saving humanity. It’s about preserving the wonders of the natural world and celebrating the sheer beauty of the life that surprises and delights us every day. Love it! This was the favorite article in our office, Kudos!

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