In this undated snapshot taken in Botswana’s Chobe National Park, a mother elephant defends herself and her infant from a pack of roughly a dozen hyenas. “The elephant herd included two adult females, a few teenagers, and a baby that was a few days old,” writes photographer Jayesh Mehta, in a submission to the 2013 National Geographic Photography contest. Home to more than 120,000 elephants—that’s the highest concentration of pachyderm in the world—the park is one of Africa’s top conservation areas.
A pair of Gentoo penguin chicks get their first glimpse of the Antarctic wilderness. These famous waddlers spend most of their days hunting for fish and krill, and can remain submerged underwater for up to seven minutes. On land they have no natural predators, but in the open ocean, they are hunted by sea lions and killer whales. According to National Geographic, the species' numbers are "increasing on the Antarctic Peninsula, but have plummeted in some of their island enclaves, possibly due to local pollution or disrupted fisheries."
Photo: Richard Sidey/National Geographic Photography Contest 2013
I think I have that striped shirt
There are approximately 2,000 Grevy's zebras alive today, living in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. They prefer semi-arid grasslands with a permanent water source and have been amassing in the south of their territory due to habitat loss. This species, which grows larger than any other wild equid, has rounded ears and a large head and neck. Foals like this one are also born with rust-colored stripes that turn black.
Source: University of Michigan
Photo: Daryl Balfour/Getty
This spotted owlet is part of the most studied owl species in the world because it is an indicator species for old-growth forests. Spotted owls are found primarily within the most western states of the U.S. and in Central America. They only reproduce every five or six years, and while the odds of survival for owlets are not high, the odds for adults are better; they can live up to 17 years. Their status is not dire, but spotted owls are considered near threatened.
A child stands in front of a tank holding 2,000 spotted jellyfish at the Vancouver Aquarium. Two incredible facts about the spotted jelly: First, it has multiple mouths on its “oral” arms and, second, small, young fish sometimes swim inside larger spotted jellies for protection until they reach maturity.
Photo: Andy Clark/Reuters
A walrus named Odin is checked by an animal keeper at Hagenbecks Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, on May 16, 2013. In the wild, walruses—with a population of over 250,000—are doing quite well, though they are threatened by the effects of climate change. Their other big historical threat—hunting—has largely been eradicated. Today only Native Americans are allowed to legally hunt walruses.
Photos: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters
Cheer for Charley
Bette Zirkelbach examines Charley, a tagged juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, on May 10, 2013. Charley was released on June 8, 2012, off Santa Marta, Colombia, and rescued 22 miles off the Florida Keys on May 7, 2013. A fisherman found the turtle floating in Sargasso weed. It is believed Charley traveled some 2,000 miles from his original release point.
Photo: Andy Newman/Reuters
The Three Amigos
Black-footed ferrets were considered extinct until a small population was discovered in Wyoming in 1981. This prompted the establishment of the Black-Footed Ferret Recovery Program, which bred these masked meat-eating mammals in captivity. In 1991 they began being reintroduced to the prairies of South Dakota, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Mexico, and Canada.
Lemurs, native only to Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands, look like the ancestors of primates that lived tens of millions of years ago. They have opposable thumbs like monkeys, but their tails are not prehensile, meaning they can't swing around on them. Lemur species range in size from the one-ounce pygmy mouse lemur to the 15-pound indri and safaka lemurs, though it is said that there is an extinct species that grew as large as 400 pounds. The deforestation of Madagascar has been devastating to its lemur population.
A Buckeye butterfly sits on a flower during the first day of the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park on May 8, 2013, in San Francisco, California. The always-popular exhibit has returned to the Conservatory of Flowers and features more than 20 species of North American butterflies, including Monarchs, Western Swallowtails and more.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The Alpha Male
Kumbuka, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, holds a green pepper as he explores his new enclosure at the London Zoo on May 2, 2013. The silverback male, who weighs 407 pounds and stands seven feet tall, moved from Paignton Zoo in mid-April. Officials hope that Kumbuka will mate with the zoo's three female gorillas to increase numbers of the critically endangered species as part of the European breeding program.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
A Tongue for Honey
The sun bear, also known as the honey bear, has a tongue that ranges in length from 7.9 to 9.8 inches to maximize the amount of honey and insects it can lap up. They're found in the forests of Southeast Asia and face population challenges posed by hunters and deforestation, although its nocturnal lifestyle and shy demeanor mean that population counts are not dependable. Mother sun bears have been observed performing the rare bear behavior of walking upright on their back legs and cradling cubs in their arms.
With its mostly black body and contrasting, pinkish tail, this eastern gray squirrel almost seems to be making a fashion statement. This photo was taken in southern Ontario, where there are plenty of eastern gray squirrels, and in a great variety—common gray, speckled, blond, and more.
He may look like a cross between a koala and a gopher, but this here’s a tree kangaroo. That’s right, a kangaroo that climbs trees. This unfamiliar animal, found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia, has forearms stronger than a kangaroo’s, so it can scramble up branches. The tree kangaroo population faces threats from hunters seeking their meat and deforestation.
Photo: Craig Dingle/Getty Images
Run for It!
Meet Hera, a six-month-old lion cub, just released into the Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Hera was among a handful of big cats rescued by Four Paws from a recently closed zoo in Romania. Four Paws is responsible for rescuing more than 100 felines from around the world, including lions, tigers and cheetahs, which were originally from zoos, circuses or kept in illegal captivity.
Photo: Mihai Vasile/Reuters
A handler feeds a newborn baby military macaw next to a macaw rubrogenys (seen on the left) at the Zoo de Jurques, near Caen, in western France, on July 29, 2009. Approximately 1,000 macaw rubrogenys remain in the wild today. Their two main threats are nest-poaching and trapping for local pet supply, and habitat-clearing due to deforestation, according to Birdlife.
Photo: Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images
The Comeback Fawn
Meet Ebo, a Mhorr gazelle, recently born in the Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden. Mhorr gazelles are so endangered that there are none left living in their natural habitat of northwest Africa. The Budapest Zoo has been part of a conservation project successfully breeding these animals since 2008.
This incredible insect (trychopeplus laciniatus), which has the appearance of a twig with moss growing on it, has been crawling around the Internet this week. To be clear, that's not real moss—those green accents are part of its body! This photo was taken in the San Cipriano forest reserve in Colombia.
Today the European Commission voted in favor of a two-year ban on three of the world's most common pesticides that may be contributing to the massive bee die-offs worldwide. In each year since 2007, about 30 percent of the population of honeybees in America have died off, with percentages as high as 90 percent being reported in certain countries worldwide. This is the first continent-wide ban of the pesticides, a decision that was passed to the Commission after a hung vote in the European Union. The ban forbids the use of pesticides on flowering crops, including corn and sunflowers, which attract this fuzzy, food-pollinating insect.
A herd of elephants graze in Zakouman Nationak Park in this April 5, 2013 photograph. The park, located 800 kilometers east of N'Djamena, Chad, has seen 90 percent of its elephants poached in the past decade. The African elephant is the largest living animal on land, and also one of the most in-demand. The ivory in elephant tusks is believed to be medicinal in some Asian cultures, though no scientific proof exists of any such claim. Since the 1980s, the population of the African elephant has halved—from 1.3 million to around 600,000.
Photo: Michael Lorentz/AFP/Getty Images
'Why Hello There'
Soumya Tejpal gets close to a koala at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, on April 24, 2013. Soumya is one of four children to become the zoo's first group of Junior Conservationists, who will, with the help of zoo mentors, take part in a series of behind-the-scenes seminars to become involved with the attraction's ongoing conservation program. The first animal up on Tejpal's wildlife information tour is the koala bear—which, ironically enough, isn't a bear at all. Yes, koala bears are, in fact, marsupials. (That means that the females carry infants in their pouches). Another fun koala fact: Rarely, if ever, do they leave their native eucalyptus trees, often sleeping for up to 18 hours per day.
Photo: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
Baby Penguin Season
These king penguin chicks were pictured in early spring of this year in the colony at St. Andrew Bay, South Georgia. King penguins colonize in huge groups, and this colony is more than 100,000 penguins strong. Park regulations mandate that only 100 people may be ashore at any one time and must stay 10 meters away from the colony. The park asks that visitors "Take particular care not to disturb, or shift, moulting king penguins."
Photo: Darrell Gulin/Getty
The World’s Smallest Fox
Found in North Africa, Fennec foxes have thick fur to keep them warm through cold desert nights and huge ears to release heat during the hot day. Fur also covers their feet to protect them from the searing daytime sand. While locals hunt them for fur, others seek them out as pets because of their irresistible appearance. Still, not much is known about the size and health of the fennec population.
He may not be in the wild, but this orphaned baby elephant has at least found himself in an environment where he can grow up in safety. In this picture taken yesterday (April 21, 2013), the young elephant is shown frolicking at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Nursery inside Nairobi National Park. The nursery cares for baby elephants and rhinos that have been orphaned by poachers, lost, or abandoned for natural reasons. When this little guy reaches eight to ten years old, he'll be released into the elephant population of Tsavo National Park.
Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters
A Giant, Invasive Problem
South Florida is fighting a growing infestation of one of the world's most destructive invasive species: the giant African land snail (pictured here), which can grow as big as a rat and gnaw through stucco and plaster. The snails can produce up to 100 eggs per month and live more than eight years.
Photo: Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry/Reuters
A rhinoceros hornbill bird is seen on June 4, 2012 at an Indonesian sanctuary in Pararen Village, run by French environmentalist Aurelien Brule. For 15 years Brule has lived in the Indonesian jungle, crusading against palm oil multinationals, loggers and corruption in his bid to save endangered gibbons from annihilation. By scattering seeds on the rainforest floor, the hornbill, and other fruit-eating birds, play a big role in tropical ecology.
Photo: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images
Even Baby Alligators Are Cute
This American alligator hatchling is only six months old, but it will grow to an adult length of six to 14 feet. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list this large-eyed creature as threatened, which is a promotion from its earlier endangered status.
With its uncanny resemblance to seaweed, the leafy sea dragon is one of nature's most incredible feats of disguise. Because of the sea dragon's stunning appearance, divers in south and east Australian waters would take them from their natural habitat to keep as pets, and as a result their numbers dropped dramatically in the early '90s. In response, the Australian government placed a protection on the species, a close relative of seahorses and pipefish. Pollution and habitat loss continue to hurt the leafy sea dragons' numbers, and they are now listed as near threatened.
This cub was photographed in 2012 at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve in Kromdraai, South Africa. White lions result from a rare mutation in the Kruger subspecies of lion, but they are not albino. Because of a long-held belief that their color kept them from hiding and surviving in the wild, most white lions remain in captivity, despite the fact that a white lion pride released into the wild in 2009 disproved this theory. Because of their rare color, they are sought after by hunters, zoos, and circuses, but are considered sacred by locals.
Photo: Courtesy of Gary Whyte
A peacock is pictured on March 21, 2013, at Yala National Park in the southern district of Yala, around 250 kilometers southwest of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Large and colorful pheasants, peacocks can live up to 20 years, and are listed as endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Threats include habitat destruction and climate change. One little-known fact: The term "peacock" is often used to refer to birds of both sexes, although on a technical level, only males are peacocks.
Photo: S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images
A green Sea Turtle, named Buoy, is fitted with a tag on April 11, 2013. The tracking device will provide location updates when he is released next week following a 20-month stint in rehabilitation at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary near Sydney, Australia. When he was rescued, Buoy was suffering from a systemic infection with a missing front left flipper and was covered in barnacles that left him unable to swim.
Photo: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
Portrait of an Elephant
This lifelike charcoal drawing of an elephant was done by African artist Lucas Grant. The African elephant is the largest living animal on land, and in the 1980s its population was more than halved, from 1.3 million to about 600,000. Since 2006, poaching has risen again to dangerous heights. In January of this year, Kenyan authorities discovered two tons of illegal elephant ivory in Mombasa, and customs agents in Hong Kong seized 779 tusks, representing 389 elephant deaths.
The slow-moving West Indian manatee is the largest surviving member of the Sirenia order of mammals, which are thought to be divided into two or three subspecies. Of those subspecies, the Florida manatee and the Antillean manatee are both listed as endangered. Boating accidents and the hunting of their bones, hides, and meat are their biggest threats. Here, a mother and calf float in Three Sisters Springs, a refuge in Florida's King Bay.
(Photo: James R. D. Scott/Getty)
Break time panda-style
The Wolong Panda Center in China breeds an average of 16 endangered pandas, like this cub, each year. Additionally, the center is known for pioneering the method for sustaining the lives of twin cubs. In the wild a mother will usually reject one cub, but at the Center a nursery worker will feed one cub while the mother is with the other, and then the cubs are rotated to ensure survival.
(Photo: Keren Su/Getty Images)
A female Rothschild giraffe, named Sandy Hope, stands next to its mother at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Connecticut, on April 2, 2013. The calf of this endangered subspecies was born on March 22 at the private preserve and breeding ground for wild animals. The giraffe was named Sandy Hope in remembrance of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which took the lives of 20 students and six staff members.
Photo: Adrees Latif/Reuters
A two-year-old Florida panther is released into the wild by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 3, 2013. The panther and its sister had been raised at the White Oak Conservation Center since they were five months old. The FWC rescued the two panthers as kittens in September 2011 in northern Collier County after their mother was found dead. The panther is healthy and has grown to a size that should prepare him for life in the wild.
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Behold the Glasswing Butterfly (Greta Oto)
The Greta Oto, one of 64 species of glasswings, can be seen in Central America between Mexico and Panama at altitudes between 500 and 1,600 meters, and even in places where the environment has been disturbed by human activity. This beautiful and determined animal flies up to 7.6 miles a day when it's migrating.
Photo: Hilda Elisabeth Aardema/Getty
It’s not easy being a liger
The largest cats on Earth, ligers like this one are the offspring of a male lion and female tiger. They are born only in captivity, because lions and tigers do not currently overlap territories in nature. Although it’s surmised that lions and tigers may have mated when their territories were larger, proponents of animal rights point to ligers as proof of the unnatural and inhumane result of keeping wild animals in captivity and breeding irresponsibly. According to Big Cat Rescue, ligers are genetically predisposed to birth defects, short lifespans, and dangerous births due to their enormous size.
Photo: Christian Charisius/Reuters
On March 21, 2013, spotted deer play at Yala National Park, in the southern district of Yala, around 250 kilometers southwest of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in the island-nation.
Photo: Ishara S. Kokikara/Getty Images
A bee sits on a grape during the harvest at a vineyard in the town of Meilen, which is near Zurich, on September 25, 2012. Syngenta and Bayer, top producers of the pesticides blamed for a sharp fall in bee populations around the world, proposed a plan to support bee health to try to forestall a European Union ban on the products.
Photo: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Stranded on the River Thames
A 16-foot-high sculpture of a polar bear and cub, afloat on a small iceberg on the River Thames, passes in front of Tower Bridge on January 26, 2009, in London, England. The sculpture was launched to provide a warning to members of Parliament of the dangers of climate change, which science has proven is killing polar bears. Every fall, these apex predator bears gather on the edge of the Hudson Bay in Canada and wait for the ice pack to form. Over the winter months, they kill seals and store up fat reserves. Then, in late spring, when the ice begins to thaw out, they return to the tundra, where there are no seals, to spend the summertime “melt season.” A new study, however, found a “trend towards earlier arrival of polar bears on shore and later departure from land, which has been driven by climate-induced declines in the availability of sea ice.”
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Tanning in Filth
A crocodile basks in the sun next to the sewage and pollution-filled Tarcoles River in Tarcoles, 62 miles from San Jose, Costa Rica, on April 5, 2006. Tourists once flocked to the surf and wildlife of this tropical town on the country's Pacific coast, but the filth of a sewage-rich river that oozes through Tarcoles has driven them away. Despite its pollution, the river hosts a wide array of tropical birds and a large population of American crocodiles.
Photo: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
‘They Look Like Walking Skeletons’
A rescued California sea lion pup is seen at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California, on March 13, 2013. The center has been overwhelmed by the roughly 700 severely malnourished and dehydrated pups that have come to shore along the Orange County coastline in 2013. "A normal sea lion at this age—eight to nine months old—should be around 60, 70 pounds," said Keith Matassa, of the center, to CBS News. "We're seeing them come into our center at 20 to 25 pounds, and really they look like walking skeletons." To date, scientists aren't quite sure why the sea lions are like this. One theory postulates that their food supply, herring and sardines, has disappeared from the waters close to California's coast.
Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters
Keep Your Chin Up, Dude
Zookeeper Grant Kother, at ZSL London Zoo, weighs and measures a giant tortoise during the zoo's annual weigh-in on August 22, 2012, in London, England. Each year, the height and mass of every animal in the zoo, of which there are over 16,000, is recorded. The measurements are collated in the Zoological Information Management System, which zoologists can use to compare information on thousands of endangered species.
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
An orphaned elephant feeds from a bottle at the Daphne Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for Orphans, which is in Nairobi National Park (near Kenya's capital), on April 21, 2012. The orphanage is operated by Daphne Sheldrick, wife of the late naturalist David William Sheldrick. The orphaned elephants raised by the Trust are returned back when they mature (usually between eight to ten years old) to join the undomesticated elephant population in Tsavo National Park, where David was the founder Warden from 1948 to 1976.
Photo: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
On March 13, 2013, Tanya Ward, Michelle Anger, Virginia Edmonds, Ashley Poole and Lisa Di Jenno comfort a rescued manatee that has been exposed to red tide in Southwest Florida. It is being treated with antibiotics at the David Straz Jr. Manatee Hospital at Tampa Florida's Lowry Park Zoo.
This year more than 200 of the gentle sea creatures have died. When exposed to the toxins in a red tide, manatees become paralyzed and drown to death. The bloom that hit Florida's Gulf Coast was caused, scientists believe, by pollution runoff of fertilizer and sewage.
Photo: Steve Nesius/Reuters
A caiman stands near a capybara, the largest rodent in the world, at a lagoon at the Hato La Aurora, Casanare province on December 15, 2012. The Hato La Aurora private nature reserve is enormous—some 17,000 hectares big—and houses more than 350 species of birds and hundreds of wild animals, including cats, pumas, tigers, and thousands of turtles. The reserve promotes conservation of all wildlife and leads a safari, which attracts hundreds of local and foreign visitors each year.
Photo: Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters
Who Blinks First?
Two children look at a red uakari monkey at Huachipa Zoo in Lima, Peru, on May 19, 2012. The species is known for its striking red face and very short tail, which is a rare trait in monkeys. Two main threats have this primate on the brink of extinction: It is hunted in its Amazon rainforest home for food by indigenous people, and the towering trees it calls home are increasingly cut down by illegal loggers.
Photo: Mariana Bazo/Reuters
A woman takes a photograph of a dried shark fin on display at a restaurant in Bangkok on March 5, 2013. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held from March 3 until March 14 in Bangkok. To stem the tide against the illegal shark fin trade—which kills 100 million sharks each year—delegates voted in favor of listing five of the world's most threatened shark species (the oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and three hammerhead species) on the Convention's Appendix II. This would make it illegal for a fisherman to catch an individual specimen without a permit from a local authority.
Photo: Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
The Turtle ER
Biologist Vilma Castillo applies medicine to a freshwater turtle in a clinic for turtles in Tortufauna, Costa Rica, on May 27, 2010. According to Castillo, Tortufauna is the first clinic in Central and Latin America to specialize in providing treatment for injured tortoises and freshwater turtles. Castillo receives an average of 80 turtles per month for treatment.
Photo: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
A five-month-old orphaned elephant called Tembo plays with Lucy Fitzjohn at Tony Fitzjohn's Mkomazi rhino sanctuary on June 19, 2012, in Mkomazi, Tanzania. The Aspinall Foundation, the Tusk Trust, and the George Adamson Trust combined forces to stage a rare translocation of three captive-born black rhino to Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania in order to rejuvenate the area's black rhino numbers. The three animals—Grumeti, Monduli and Zawadi—were airlifted in a dedicated DHL Boeing 757 from Manston Airport in Kent direct to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. Their story is welcome news in the pachyderm world. In the last decade, poachers have reduced the population of Africa's forest elephants by 62 percent, putting the species on the fast track to extinction.
Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Watch Where You Waddle
A colony of gentoo penguins rests on a minefield at Kidney Cove, a stretch of beach across the Falklands Islands' capital of Stanley, on September 9, 2005. About 25,000 land mines were laid on the islands, mostly by Argentine forces in the 1982 war with Britain. Falklands wildlife nests and rests in these protected minefields, which were previously trampled by people or overgrazed by sheep. It is the bright side of a land mine problem that is likely to persist, since de-mining is difficult, if not impossible, in the peaty soils and shifting sands of this South Atlantic archipelago.
Photo: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters
Two giraffes play at Nairobi's National Park on March 11, 2013. The park is located just four miles from Kenya's capital city center. In addition to giraffes, the park is also home to endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetah, hyena, buffaloes, and more. In the wild, a healthy giraffe can live up to 25 years. Globally, giraffes are hunted for their meat, coat, and tails, which are prized in some cultures as a good luck charm.
Photo: Marco Djurica/Reuters
Up Close and Personal
Snorkelers swim with a whale shark, the world’s largest fish, at Maldives’ South Ari Atoll on August 27, 2012. The whale shark inhabits tropical and temperate waters. Even though the species is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable, it continues to be hunted in parts of Asia, like the Philippines.
Photo: David Loh/Reuters
No Natural Predators?
A Chestnut-mandibled Toucan is pictured inside a cage at the Las Pumas Rescue Shelter in Canas, Guanacaste, 124 miles from San Jose, Costa Rica, on March 19, 2008. Because of their size, Chestnut-mandibled Toucans probably have very few, if any, regular predators. The shelter was created 40 years ago, by Swiss Werner Hagnauer and his late wife, Lilly Bodmer, when the deforestation levels in Guanacaste were high. The shelter receives animals from neighbors as well as ones confiscated by the Ministry of Environment, and is home to more than 160 animals from 60 different species.
Photo: Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
A zookeeper feeds a newborn white-eared night heron at a zoo in Nanning, China, on May 8, 2009. The bird was born on May 3 by artificial incubation, according to local media. The white-eared night heron is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List as one of the world's most endangered species. Its main threat is habitat loss due to deforestation.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
The World’s Smallest Monkey
A pygmy marmoset is seen at a primate rescue and rehabilitation center near Santiago, Chile, on August 3, 2010. The pygmy marmoset, known as the world’s smallest monkey, was confiscated after being found inside the clothes of a Peruvian citizen during a highway police check at the northern city of Antofagasta, some 849 miles of Santiago. The species is under threat of extinction for two main reasons: Humans love to collect them as pets, and we love to clear-cut the Amazonian trees in which they live.
Photo: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters
Peanut the Turtle
Peanut, a red-eared slider, celebrated her 29th birthday on November 8, 2012—and, boy, what a life she’s led. Discovered in Missouri in 1993 with a six-pack plastic ring encircling her body, she was taken to a zoo in St. Louis, where it was quickly removed. “She couldn't get it off, and over time, the majority of her shell grew, but the area around the ring did not,” reads a statement on the website of the Minnesota Department of Conservation. “If this had happened to a fleshy animal like an otter, the animal probably would have died from an infection.” Currently, Peanut is in the care of the Missouri Department of Conservation and lives at the Busch Conservation Area. She travels around Missouri as part of a campaign against litter and trash.
Photo: Missouri Department of Conservation
A one-month old baby Pudu deer is fed at a college in Concepcion city, south of Santiago, Chile, on November 12, 2012. The Pudu, the world's smallest deer, was found orphaned in a forest close to Concepcion and lives exclusively in southern Chile and part of Argentina. Because of overhunting and habitat loss due to agriculture and livestock, the species is currently in danger of extinction.
Photo: Jose Luis Saavedra/Reuters
Crouching Tiger, Frightened Photographer
A Sumatran tiger growls at a photographer at the Sumatra Tiger Rescue Centre compound, inside the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation (TWNC), near Bandar Lampung, Indonesia, on February 25, 2013. The rescue center has released five tigers since 2009 on the 45,000 hectares of the TWNC jungle. Eight tigers, which eat a total of 80 live pigs a month, are still under its care, but one of the eight will be released next year.
The Sumatran tiger is a rare tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and is classified as critically endangered. About 440-600 of these animals were accounted for by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008. The owner of this preserve has said that it costs roughly $150,000 per month to maintain.
Blackbird chicks open their mouths during feeding at the Wildlife hospital in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, on June 16, 2010. The hospital treats about 2,000 animals each year, many of which are rescued after suffering injuries in the wild. The hospital, run by the Ramat Gan Safari and Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, also offers the animals treatments like physical therapy and hydrotherapy.
Photo: Baz Ratner/Reuters
Polar bears jostle each other at the St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec, on October 31, 2011. According to Environment Canada, Canada is home to around 15,000 of the estimated 20,000 polar bears in the world. The U.S. (Alaska), Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and Norway are the other four countries where polar bears can be found. While these bears do live in captivity, it can be argued they might have a better life than their wild brethren, who, thanks to climate change, are being forced to move due to melting ice. As sea ice decreases, the bears swim farther to find suitable habitats, and food is harder to come by. Some have even turned to cannibalism.
Photo: Mathieu Belanger/Reuters
Flight of the Flamingo Flock
Flamingos soar over a wetland reserve in Celestun, in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, on December 6, 2011. The world's population of wild flamingos is under threat from overdevelopment and illegal trade on the black market, but the wetland reserve is thriving with thousands of the pink-feathered creatures in search of an ideal winter habitat. According to the Caribbean Flamingo Conservation Program, the estimated 45,000 flamingos that call Mexico's Yucatan state home are an integral part of the travelling bird's regional metapopulation, which stretches as far as the Caribbean islands.
Photo: Victor Ruiz Garcia/Reuters
Schoolchildren watch an elephant painted as a panda perform in a school in Ayutthaya province, 50 miles north of Bangkok, Thailand, on June 26, 2009. Five such elephants were led on a walkabout to send a message to the Thai public to not ignore its elephants, the symbolic animal of Thailand.
While there has been an international ban on ivory trade since 1989, Thailand allows the prized good to be sold in domestic markets. This loophole, if you will, gives poachers the greenlight to transport so-called “blood ivory” into Thailand from Africa, where it is indistinguishable from domestic ivory. Once it reaches Thailand, the ivory is carved into Buddhist statues, bangles, and jewelry, which are then sold to tourists as overpriced souvenirs.
Photo: Sukree Sukplang/Reuters
Mask of the Mandrill
In July 2008, a mature male mandrill, a large species of baboon, walks through a forest during dry season in Lope National Park, Gabon. Endangered, mandrills are threatened by human settlement on their rainforest homeland. Considered by some in Africa to be a delicacy, they're often hunted as bushmeat.
Photo: Anup Shah/Getty Images
Beware the Tiger Swarm
Siberian tigers approach a keeper’s car as they wait to be fed at the Siberian Tiger Forest Park in Harbin, China, on December 27, 2011. More than 800 Siberian tigers are currently living in the park, which is also a breeding center for this endangered species, according to a local report. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 critically endangered tigers have been killed for their furs and skins. A century ago, more than 100,000 tigers existed in the wild. Today, that number is estimated to be 3,500. The big cats occupy less than seven percent of their original range.
Photo: Sheng Li/Reuters
Hungry Hungry Hippo
A zookeeper feeds a hippopotamus with forage wrapped in the shape of a rice dumpling zongzi to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival at a wildlife zoo in Shenzhen, China, on June 21, 2012. The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, commemorates the memory of Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in 277 BC to protest a corrupt government. Rice dumpling zongzi is a traditional food people eat during this festival.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
Neon Yellow, With a Shade of Poison
An endangered poison frog—Oophaga histrionica—is seen at the Santa Fe Zoo in Medellin, Colombia, on January 15, 2013. Brazil and Colombia have some of the most amphibian species in the world, according to a United Nations Environment Programme report. These frogs, which come in three colors, are threatened because of habitat loss and degradation, mostly as the result of agricultural development, logging, and human settlement.
Photos: Albeiro Lopera/Reuters
An albino baby turtle swims with green sea turtles in a pond at Khram island, about 19 miles from Pattaya, which is east of Bangkok, on June 17, 2009. Special care is given to about 15,000 green and hawksbill baby turtles hatched and housed at the navy's conservation center each year. The baby turtles' shells are strong enough to protect them from various predators at about six months old, at which point the young turtles are released to the sea.
Photo: Chaiwat Subprason/Reuters
The Eyes Have It
A Philippine Eagle Owl is seen inside the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Rescue Center in Quezon City, Metro Manila, on November 6, 2009. The center, which serves as a repository and rehabilitation facility for confiscated, donated or abandoned wildlife, and whose objective is to release endemic and indigenous animals back to their habitat, also serves as a venue for public education and a training and research facility for future veterinarians and biologists.
Photo: John Javellana/Reuters
Elke, a five-day-old Francois Langur, makes her media debut at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital in Sydney on March 24, 2009. Taronga's keepers decided to hand-raise the monkey after she was rejected by her mother.
Photo: Daniel Munoz/Reuters
Follow the Leader
A cowboy transports horses through of the Ariporo River at the Hato La Aurora preserve in Colombia, on December 18, 2012. At over 42,000 acres, the private nature reserve houses more than 350 species of birds, hundreds of wild animals, including cats, pumas, tigers, and thousands of turtles. The reserve promotes conservation of all wildlife, and leads a safari that attracts hundreds of local and foreign visitors each year.
Photo: Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters
Volunteer Cara Bround holds a ten-day-old baby Sykes monkey being taken care of at the Colobus Trust rescue center, near Mombasa, after its mother was electrocuted on March 23, 2010. According to the trust, the population of Sykes monkeys dropped from 800 in 2007 to just 600 in 2010.
Photo: Joseph Okanga/Reuters
On October 30, 2012, a giant panda is seen on a tree at the new base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan province. The first batch of 18 pandas returned to Wolong base last fall, after being sent to Bifengxia base following the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
Save a Deer? Check.
John Henry, a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, rescues a fawn after Hurricane Isaac in La Place, Louisiana on August 31, 2012.
Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters
A student of the Universidade do Amazonas measures a pale-throated sloth, a species of three-toed sloth that inhabits tropical rainforests in northern South America, at the Sauim Castanheira Wildlife Refuge in Manaus, on July 24, 2012. The refuge takes in wild animals which are found injured or lost and treats them until recovery, a task they say has grown in importance as the city of Manaus, with 3.4 million inhabitants, according to the latest census, expands and encroaches on the surrounding jungle.
Photo: Bruno Kelly/Reuters
A leopard seal is seen in the port of Talcahuano near Concepcion city, some 311 miles south of Santiago, Chile, on August 24, 2012. The leopard seal from Antarctica was brought to a rescue center for marine animals after she was found injured, presumably hit by a small boat.
Photo: Jose Luis Saavedra/Reuters
A pelican is seen at the port city of Sidon, southern Lebanon, on June 26, 2012. A small number of pelicans, one of which was injured a few years ago, live in the port of Sidon, where fishermen feed and take care of them.
Photo: Ali Hashisho/Reuters
Holding on For Dear Life
Anya, a 24-year-old gorilla, carries her two-week-old baby Emelia on her back at the Ramat Gan Safari park, an open-air zoo, near Tel Aviv, Israel, in this November 14, 2012 photograph.
Photo: Nir Elias/Reuters
Wolf researcher Werner Freund feeds Arctic wolves with meat in an enclosure at Wolfspark Werner Freund, in Merzig, in the German province of Saarland, on January 24, 2013.
Photo: Lisi Niesner/Reuters
On January 17, 2013, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson speaks to reporters during a state-sponsored Burmese python snake hunt, near the Everglades, Florida. Python Challenge 2013 is a month-long event sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, offering prizes of $1,500 for the most pythons captured and $1,000 for the longest python.
Brought to Florida by the exotic pet trade, and set free in the Everglades, the Southeast Asian snakes are normally about 12 feet long but can reach lengths of up to 19 feet. Opportunistic eaters, pythons have all but wiped out marsh rabbits, opossums, and raccoons in the southern region of Everglades National Park.