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Endangered Species

What does it mean to be an endangered species?

An endangered species is a type of mammal, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, or plant that is at risk of extinction. In January 2013, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services reported that 2,054 species are endangered or threatened across the world, with 1,436 of them being in the United States. A species is considered endangered or threatened when the population of that species is very low and there are a lot of threats to its habitat, food supplies or other factors that could challenge the species’ survival. 

What’s the difference between threatened, endangered and extinct?

When there are no more left of a particular animal in the world, that animal is considered to be extinct. Some animals are no longer found in the wild, but can be found in zoos because some of them were taken in to prevent complete loss of that animal species; this is an animal that is considered to be extinct in the wild.  When the population of an animal has gotten extremely low across the world and is near extinction, that animal is considered to be endangered. An animal that has a population that is nearing endangered is called threatened. 

Why are species becoming endangered?

Many wildlife animals are losing their habitat and supplies of food and water. Unfortunately, many human activities have negative affects upon wildlife.  When people cut forests to build new areas or to grow crops, they take away the shelter and food supply of all of the animals that once lived in that forest.  Or when people pollute oceans with plastics or chemicals, they make it an unsafe environment for fish, turtles and sea birds.  Wildlife can also become seriously harmed by traps set by hunters, by natural disasters or by diseases. And one of the newest, but most serious threats to all wildlife is climate change.

Who helps endangered animals?

In many parts of the world, the government of a country helps to protect species of animals and plants that are endangered or threatened by creating laws against hunting and by protecting portions of land or waters that are critical habitat.  Many zoos and animal and environmental conservation organizations send workers to the areas where endangered animals live, to monitor and protect those animals and to build awareness of the animals’ need for protection. 

Learn More

Threats to Wildlife in the United StatesEndangered Wildlife in Ohio(PDF) Books on this topic