Endangered Species Day

Mark your calendars for May 19 – Endangered Species Day. Since 2006, the third Friday in May has been a day to reflect on animal and plant species that are becoming extinct at an alarming rate.

Lun Lun at Zoo Atlanta

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a comprehensive list of the conservation status of species. Despite some conservation successes, the IUCN’s assessment is that biodiversity is in decline. Of the 79,800 species on its list, over 23,000 are threatened with extinction.

Bei Bei at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington DC

Species that are appealing to humans, like the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), have been recipients of focused conservation efforts. This animal’s unique black/white coloration, a pseudo-thumb that allows it to grab objects, and the ability to sit contribute to its adorableness. Indigenous to China, there are only about 1,864 giant pandas remaining in the wild. China has loaned approximately 300 more to zoos and breeding centers in other countries. Intensive conservation efforts in China and elsewhere have enabled this species to take a step in the right direction. The IUCN upgraded its status from “endangered” (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild) to “vulnerable” (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild) in 2016.

An Endangered Species Day display currently awaits your visit on Level 7 of the Central Library. It attempts to present an overview of the extinction crises and also focuses on four species. The highlighted ones are threatened by different factors: polar bears (global warming), killer whales (pollution and prey depletion), elephants (poaching), and pandas (habitat loss). You can view the display from now through the end of May.

Here is a list of recommended books and films on the plight of endangered species.

     – Posted by library staff

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