The 25 cutest endangered animals

Determined to divert some attention to our planet’s issues, we’ve employed the help of 25 adorable animals who are struggling to survive in the ecosystem humans so frequently interfere with. While we believe all endangered animals deserve our help, we’re hoping these 25 will at least create more awareness of threatened species and possibly inspire more people to get involved.

American/West Indian manatee

American/West Indian manatee
  • Level of threat: Vulnerable
  • Where they’re found: Florida and the Greater Antilles; central and northern South America; northeastern South America
  • Biggest threats: About half of adult manatee deaths are due to human-related causes, mainly watercraft collisions. The other big threat to these animals is habitat loss — the predicted changes in warm-water areas, which manatees rely on, are expected to take a toll on the population. These two issues are exacerbated by the fact that manatees have low reproductive rates.
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: The manatee’s closest relative is the elephant.

Beluga whale

Beluga whale
  • Level of threat: IUCN says near threatened; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says endangered
  • Where they’re found: Arctic Ocean, and seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland
  • Biggest threats: Mainly, hunting for human consumption. Other threats include oil and gas development, expansion of fisheries, hydroelectric development, industrial and urban pollution, and climate change.
  • Estimated population: More than 150,000
  • Fun fact: Beluga whales’ whitish skin evolved as a way for them to camouflage themselves in the polar ice caps, protecting them from predators like polar bears and killer whales.

Black-footed ferret

Black-footed ferret
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss, reduced prey populations — they prey on prairie dogs, which were persecuted as agricultural pests during most of the 20th century — and non-native disease (e.g., Plague)
  • Estimated population: 1,300
  • Fun fact: They are the only ferret species native to North America.

Giant panda

Giant panda
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: South-central China
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss due to tree removal for logging operations and farming
  • Estimated population: 1,600
  • Fun fact: Giant pandas eat between 26 and 84 pounds of bamboo every day.

Pygmy hippopotamus

Pygmy hippopotamus
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: West Africa
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss, due to the destruction of forests for logging, farming and developing
  • Estimated population: 2,000 to 3,000
  • Fun fact: The pygmy hippo’s skin oozes out a pink fluid called “blood sweat” that helps protect it from sunburn.

Red slender loris

Red slender loris
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Central and southwestern Sri Lanka
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss, road kill and hunting for the pet trade, traditional “medicine” and superstitious killing
  • Estimated population: 1,500
  • Fun fact: The slender loris’s huge eyes enable it to see in the dark and hunt insects at night.

Pygmy rabbit

Pygmy rabbit
  • Level of threat: IUCN says least concern; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says endangered
  • Where they’re found: Great Basin, Washington and Idaho
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss due to fires and conversion for farming
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: The pygmy rabbit is the smallest rabbit in North America, weighing less than 1 pound.

Sea otter

Sea otter
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean
  • Biggest threats: Oil spills
  • Estimated population: 106,822
  • Fun fact: Sea otters sometimes “hold hands” so they don’t drift apart.

Borneo pygmy elephant

Borneo pygmy elephant
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Northeastern Borneo
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss — their forests are being destroyed for commercial plantations, logging and expanding agriculture
  • Estimated population: 1,500
  • Fun fact: Borneo elephants evolved from Asian elephants, after being isolated from those in Asia and Sumatra. They eventually became smaller with somewhat larger ears, longer tails and straighter tusks.

Silver pika

Silver pika
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: China
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss due to deforestation; climate change
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: Silver pikas are endemic to a single forest in the Helan-Shan range, occupying a total area of 3 square kilometers.

Galapagos penguin

Galapagos penguin
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Galapagos Archipelago, Ecuador
  • Biggest threats: Pollution, bycatch, climate change and non-native disease
  • Estimated population: 1,800
  • Fun fact: Galapagos penguins are monogamous, choosing one mate for life.

Australian sea lion

Australian sea lion
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: South and southwestern Australia
  • Biggest threats: Australian aborigines and early European colonists killed these sea lions for food, and 17th- and 18th-century sealers further reduced the population. Today, their main threat is getting trapped in fishing nets.
  • Estimated population: 13,790
  • Fun fact: Adult male Australian sea lions are approximately 2.5 to 3.5 times heavier than adult females.

Gold-mantled tree kangaroo

Gold-mantled tree kangaroo
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: New Guinea
  • Biggest threats: Hunting for human consumption, and habitat loss through conversion of forest to cultivated land
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: The most recently discovered tree kangaroo, the golden-mantled tree kangaroo was found in 1993.

Red panda

Red panda
  • Level of threat: Vulnerable
  • Where they’re found: Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss due to deforestation, and poaching
  • Estimated population: Fewer than 10,000
  • Fun fact: The red panda inspired the Firefox logo.

Polar bears

Polar bears
  • Level of threat: Vulnerable
  • Where they’re found: Arctic Ocean
  • Biggest threats: Loss of sea ice habitat from climate change, conflicts between polar bears and humans, industrial development, and unsustainable hunting
  • Estimated population: 20,000 to 25,000
  • Fun fact: Polar bears apparently caught on to Eskimo kisses — they use nose-to-nose interactions to “ask” other polar bears for something, such as food.

Pygmy three-toed sloth

Pygmy three-toed sloth
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: Isla Escudo de Veraguas, in the islands of Bocas del Toro, Panama
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss and poaching
  • Estimated population: Most likely fewer than 100
  • Fun fact: Pygmy three-toed sloths can turn their heads approximately 270 degrees horizontally to observe their surroundings without moving the rest of their bodies.

Kleinmann’s tortoise

Kleinmann’s tortoise
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: Egypt and Israel
  • Biggest threats: National and international pet trade (now illegal); plus agricultural, developmental and industrial pressures
  • Estimated population: 7,470
  • Fun fact: Kleinmann’s tortoise is the smallest tortoise in the northern hemisphere.

Phayre’s leaf monkey

Phayre’s leaf monkey
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Eastern Bangladesh, southwestern China, northeastern India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and northern Vietnam
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss and disturbance due to the establishment of tea gardens and paper mills, timber plantations, livestock ranching, shifting agriculture, firewood collection, charcoal production and human settlement; other threats include pollution, inbreeding and a local animal trade for zoos and for food
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: When a group of Phayre’s leaf monkeys is disturbed, the females pick up their young and escape into the forest, while the males remain to bark at the intruders.

Northern hairy-nosed wombat

Northern hairy-nosed wombat
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: Australia
  • Biggest threats: Decline due to habitat loss and competition with cattle and sheep, particularly during droughts; currently threatened by native competitors and introduced predators, and by its small colony size, which makes it extra vulnerable to disease and wildfire, inbreeding and loss of genetic variation
  • Estimated population: 115
  • Fun fact: Its weird-looking nose is key to survival, since they’re nocturnal animals and their poor eyesight means they have to be able to smell their food in the dark.

Vancouver Island marmot

Vancouver Island marmot
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
  • Biggest threats: IUCNRedlist.org states that “no obvious threats have been identified, although long-term environmental changes, prehistoric hunting and recent forestry activities could have impacted populations. Predation on so small a population is considered a significant threat.”
  • Estimated population: 130
  • Fun fact: Adults mark their territories by rubbing the scent glands located on their cheeks against rocks and stumps.

Axolotl salamander

Axolotl salamander
  • Level of threat: Critically endangered
  • Where they’re found: Central Mexico
  • Biggest threats: Desiccation and pollution of the canal system and lakes in Xochimilco and Chalco, as a result of urbanization, as well as the traditional consumption of the species by local people
  • Estimated population: Fewer than 100
  • Fun fact: Adult axolotl salamanders can regenerate many body structures, including the whole limb and tail, the central nervous system, and eye and heart tissues.

Utah prairie dog

Utah prairie dog
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Southern Utah
  • Biggest threats: Decline was mainly due to intensive poisoning efforts; current threats include habitat loss due to residential and agricultural development on private lands, plague outbreaks, deliberate (illegal) poisoning and shooting by ranchers and farmers concerned about agricultural damage
  • Estimated population: 8,000
  • Fun fact: These prairie dogs live in large, underground colonies that sometimes contain thousands of residents.

Dinagat gymnure

Dinagat gymnure
  • Level of threat: Endangered
  • Where they’re found: Philippines
  • Biggest threats: Habitat loss due to logging, firewood collection and mining of nickel and chromite
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: This species only exists on three islands: Dinagat, Siargao and Bucas Grande.

Arctic fox

Arctic fox
  • Level of threat: Least concern
  • Where they’re found: Arctic tundra
  • Biggest threats: Declined due to fur trade; current threats include scarcity of prey, disease, genetic pollution and climate change
  • Estimated population: Several hundred thousand animals
  • Fun fact: The Arctic fox can survive temperatures as low as -58 degrees

Sand kitten

Sand kitten
  • Level of threat: Near threatened
  • Where they’re found: Deserts of northern Africa and southwest and central Asia
  • Biggest threats: Habitat degradation due to human settlement and activity, especially livestock grazing
  • Estimated population: N/A
  • Fun fact: Sand cats have large, furry pads between their toes, which allow them to hop around the hot sand. Their oversized ears act like radiators to disperse heat.