Americans Celebrate 16th Annual Endangered Species Day

ESC News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of Americans participated today in Endangered Species Day events and activities across the country, in recognition of the nation’s commitment to protecting and restoring disappearing wildlife.

This is the 16th annual international Endangered Species Day, which occurs on the third Friday of May, celebrating wildlife and wild places.

“Endangered Species Day celebrates our declared national responsibility to our children and their children to save our vanishing wildlife and plants,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition, primary sponsor of Endangered Species Day. “Bald eagles, sea turtles, wolves, and gray whales are just a fraction of the 1,600 species that the Endangered Species Act is saving every day.” 

Endangered Species Day was first created by the U.S. Senate in 2006, when it unanimously designated May 11, 2006 as the first ever “Endangered Species Day,” to encourage “the people of the United States to become educated about, and aware of, threats to species, success stories in species recovery, and the opportunity to promote species conservation worldwide.”

President Biden, a senator at the time, was a co-sponsor of the 2006 Senate resolution creating Endangered Species Day and he was also an original cosponsor of the Endangered Species Act itself in 1973. Since 2006, Endangered Species Day has been celebrated annually on the third Friday of May.  

This year’s Endangered Species Day will include a combination of virtual, remote, and socially-distanced in-person activities. On Friday (and throughout May) wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, parks, botanic gardens, schools, libraries, museums, and community groups will hold these events. Some highlights include:

  • A nationwide chalk art contest, hosted by the Endangered Species Coalition; 
  • A panel discussion, “Saving Endangered Marine Megafauna from Extinction,” hosted by Shark Stewards and the Earth Island Institute;
  • Colorado Endangered Species Week, a week of free educational events and fun advocacy opportunities to protect the plant and animal species at risk in Colorado, including a day of service, a virtual trivia game night, and an auction, hosted by Rocky Mountain Wild and other organizations; 
  • Special exhibits and activities at zoos around the world, including the London Zoo, Auckland Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta; 
  • Pollinator garden plantings in states across the U.S. to create habitat for native bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species.

These and other events are listed on the Endangered Species Day website.

In 2009 the Coalition began incorporating a national youth art contest into the Endangered Species Day event. Each year, nearly two thousand students of all ages submit illustrations of their favorite endangered species to contest judges. The top winners in each age group are selected for the publication in the annual Endangered Species Art calendar, and the grand prizewinner receives a special award. This year’s grand prize winner is Maple Valley, WA 16-year-old Phoebe C. Pheobe was awarded a $200.00 certificate for art supplies, a virtual art lesson by a professional artist and educator, and $300 in funding toward the purchase of native plants for pollinators, from Endangered Species Coalition’s Pollinator Protectors campaign.  

More than 1,300 imperiled species of plants, fish and wildlife in the United States have been protected by the Endangered Species Act, and only ten have gone extinct, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additionally, a 2012 study found that 90 percent of protected species are recovering at the pace expected in their scientific recovery plans. Signed by President Richard Nixon in 1973, public opinion research indicates that the Act receives strong, broad, public support. 

“We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of nature,” Huta said. “The Endangered Species Act is a declaration to the world that we will not rob our children of the opportunity to watch a humpback whale break through the surface of the ocean or to hear the cry of the bald eagle.”

In addition to the Endangered Species Coalition, the National Park Service (NPS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), numerous conservation, education, community and youth organizations have also supported and participated in Endangered Species Day, including the Girl Scouts USA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, and Native Plant Conservation Campaign. 

For more information on Endangered Species Day, including event locations and a variety of educational resource materials, visit

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