Washington, DC – Thousands of Americans are gathering to participate in Endangered Species Day events across the country, in recognition of our nation’s commitment to protect and restore disappearing wildlife.
This is the 12th annual international Endangered Species Day, which occurs on the third Friday of May, celebrating our 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,” stated Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC), primary sponsor of Endangered Species Day. “Bald eagles, sea turtles, American alligators, and gray whales are just a fraction of the 1,600 species that the Endangered Species Act is saving every day.”
Today, (and even throughout May), wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, parks, botanic gardens, schools, libraries, museums, and community groups will hold tours, exhibits, classroom discussions, habitat restoration projects, children’s programs, field trips and other activities. This year’s events range from California to Maine, from Florida to Oregon, Montana and Washington, D.C. and elsewhere throughout United States, as well as in India, Belgium, Canada and the U.K. Highlights include:
- Special presentations at Glacier, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite and other National Parks and Wildlife Refuges.
- Demonstrations, curator talks, tours and other activities at more than 75 zoos and aquariums, including the Los Angeles Zoo’s “Wild for the Planet,” Kansas City Zoo’s “Zootastic Learning Fest,” and “Zoo La La” at the Cincinnati Zoo.
- Milkweed garden plantings to expand monarch butterfly habitat in Maine, Montana, Washington, California, Wisconsin, Maryland, Idaho, and Oregon.
- Interactive activities for individuals and families, such as A Walk With Wolves (Divide, Colo.), Horseshoe Crab Tagging (Middle Township, NJ), Pedal the Prairie bike ride (Prairie City, IA), and the Pollinator Parade and Festival (Falmouth, ME).
- Numerous mayoral proclamations around the U.S., and the Governor of Colorado has proclaimed the entire week as “Endangered Species Week.”
Endangered Species Day was first created by 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.”
In 2009, the Coalition began incorporating a national youth art contest into the Endangered Species Day event. Each year, hundreds of students of all ages submit illustrations of their favorite endangered species to contest judges. The top winners in each age group were selected for the publication in the annual Endangered Species Art calendar, published by the FWS, and the grand prizewinner journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Endangered Species Day to meet the wildlife agency staff. This year’s grand prize winner is 7-year-old Sanah Hutchins.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was a landmark conservation law that passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. Although some members of Congress are now seeking to weaken this safety net for fish, plants and wildlife on the brink of extinction, recent polling indicates that the law maintains strong, bipartisan, public support even today.
“Because we know that Americans love endangered species, we are encouraging them to demonstrate their support by attending events, participating in activities or creating their own Endangered Species Day events,” Huta said. “We have a responsibility to future generations to protect our endangered species and the special habitats where they live.”
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.
In addition to the Endangered Species Coalition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and 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, the North American Association for Environmental Education, Native Plant Conservation Campaign, Garden Clubs of America, Sierra Club, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, Earth Day Network, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and Defenders of Wildlife.
For more information on Endangered Species Day, including event locations and a variety of educational resource materials, visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org.