Critically Endangered Animals

The Endangered Species Act was passed by Congress in 1973 to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems they depend upon. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1,219 animals and 798 plants have been declared “endangered” and receive protection under the Endangered Species Act as of July 2010. The Endangered Species Act is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

  1. South China Tiger

    • The South China tiger is considered the most threatened cat in the world. If any live in the wild, they would be found in the montane subtropical evergreen forest of southeast China. There have been no actual sightings of the South China tiger in the wild; any surviving tigers live in zoos around the world. Since 2000, the Minnesota Zoo has worked with the Department of Wildlife Management in the State Forestry Administration of China to assist with the recovery of the South China tiger.

    Sumatran Tigers

    • Sumatran tigers live exclusively in the montane forests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are critically endangered due to a substantial market for tiger parts and products. One estimate suggests there may be only 500 left in the wild. As of July 2010, about 209 tigers live in zoos worldwide, of which 49 are in North American zoos. Indonesian law protects the Sumatran tiger. Penalties include steep fines and jail time.

    Sea Turtles

    • Six of seven subspecies of sea turtles are critically endangered due to poaching, habitat loss and human conflict. The breeding populations of green turtles live in Florida and Mexico’s Pacific coast breeding colonies. In 1998, the coastal waters around Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, were designated as critical habitat for green turtles because they contained physical or biological features essential to the turtles' conservation.

      The coastal waters surrounding Mona and Monito Islands, Puerto Rico, are designated as the critical habitat for the hawksbill turtles. Kemp’s ridley turtles mostly occupy near-shore areas. Currently, St. Croix Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, is designated as a critical habitat for leatherback turtles. However, a proposal was made to revise the critical habitat to include areas off the U.S. West Coast.

      Loggerhead turtles inhabit the land, the ocean, and near-shore areas. Olive ridley turtles live in open water on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, but have been known to inhabit coastal areas including bays and estuaries as well.

    Red Panda

    • The red panda is critically endangered due to habitat fragmentation. There are an estimated 2,500 left in the wild. The red panda is usually found near the giant panda in the Himalayas, from western Nepal, Southern Tibet and Bhutan to Northeast India. As a critically endangered species, the red panda is one of many species that is a part of the American Zoo Association’s Species Survival Program.

    White Alligator

    • The white alligator was first discovered in Louisiana by the Louisiana Land Exploration Company in 1987. There are two types of white alligators: albinos, which have red eyes and leucistics, which have blue eyes. White alligators live in freshwater swamps, marshes, rivers, lakes and small water bodies of the southeastern United States. They are extremely rare, and have not been found in the wild since 1994.

      Because of its white skin, the white alligator is unable to hide from predators. Its lack of pigmentation also causes the white alligator to get sunburned easily. Since their discovery, white alligators have been a part of reptile exhibits at various zoos and aquariums around the country, including the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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  • Photo Credit white tiger predator image by Pali A from

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