Happy Endangered Species Day

Thank you for being such a special part of our family. You make the future bright for countless endangered species around the globe each and every day. Friday, May 15, is Endangered Species Day—and we’re celebrating you and everything you make possible for wildlife! Your support saves the world’s most incredible plants and animals, including rhinos like Eric.

Eric is one of 43 species and 15,000 animals we’ve reintroduced back into native habitats around the world. Each of these milestones is only possible with your support. So join us as we celebrate you this Endangered Species Day, and the incredible wildlife you’re helping at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and around the world.

Read on for the groundbreaking conservation work you make possible, and keep an eye out for the 🌎 icon for special kids' activities!

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15,000

Animals we've reintroduced into native habitat with your help

Eric the black rhino charges into the frame

190

Rhinos born at the Safari Park

Meet Eric

Born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Eric is the first black rhino raised in our care and relocated back to the Serengeti in Tanzania. Once abundant throughout the Serengeti, black rhinos roamed across the savanna. Poaching has taken its toll on these gentle giants, completely eliminating this species from the plains of Tanzania.

Today, Eric is roaming a 600-acre protected preserve with hopes of rebuilding their population once again. He even has a girlfriend, so we’re hoping for a growing family soon!

2

Northern white rhinos left on Earth

Southern white rhino calves Future and Edward come nose to nose at their first meeting

 

 

To the Future

You helped us welcome southern white rhino calves Edward and Future at the Safari Park’s Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center last year. They’re the first southern white rhinos in North America born through artificial insemination and their births are critical milestones in efforts to save their cousin, the northern white rhino, from extinction. With just two left on Earth, the northern white rhino is on the brink of extinction—and we have a plan to save them with the help of potential surrogate southern white rhino moms at the Rhino Rescue Center. This groundbreaking conservation work is only possible with your continued support!

 

21

Hawaiian crows released into their native habitat

An alala, or Hawaiian crow, in its native forest habitat

 

 

Hawaii's Rarest

Hawaii is home to indigenous species found nowhere else on Earth, and many of its rare birds are endangered. Since 1993, San Diego Zoo Global has staffed and managed the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation centers in Hawaii, we care for the alala (Hawaiian crow) as well as the puaiohi, palila, kiwikiu, akekee, akikiki, and other critically endangered bird species of the islands. You’ve helped hatch and raise more than 1,300 birds from 16 species, reintroducing 810 into protected habitats—and keeping Hawaii’s forests full of color and song for generations to come. The work is ongoing and involves joining forces with partners to protect forests, remove invasive predators, restore native plants and trees, and monitor released birds.

Since 2017, you've helped reintroduce 21 alala back into their native habitat, where they had been extinct for nearly 20 years. Today they are thriving, building nests, and getting ready to welcome the first generation born in the Hawaiian forests in decades.

 

 

 

A herd of elephants makes its way across the savanna

8

Big bottles of milk orphaned elephant calves need every day at the sanctuary

Saving Orphaned Elephants

Elephants are threatened by poaching, habitat loss, and disease. You’ve rescued and rehabilitated elephant orphans at our partner sanctuary in Kenya. You helped double the size of the sanctuary and ensure they have the most nutritious milk formula so they can grow robust and strong for reintroduction to their native habitat—with help from their cousins at the Safari Park. Elephants are the engineers of their ecosystems, knocking over trees and allowing grasses to grow. They keep their habitats healthy and thriving, so you’re not only saving them, but the countless species that rely on them in their savanna habitat. Last year, six of the calves from the orphanage were reintroduced into a protected habitat. They’re the first to be released since the orphanage opened in 2016, and they are thriving! We continue to monitor them as we care for other sick and injured calves at the sanctuary.

 

259

Endangered mountain yellow-legged frogs reintroduced into native habitat in 2018

a mountain yellow-legged frog in its native habitat

 

 

Leaping Ahead

You make a lifesaving difference for a local endangered species. In 2006, 80 tadpoles were rescued from a drying creek bed in the San Bernardino Mountains and brought to the Institute for Conservation Research. This was a desperate effort to save the local and critically endangered mountain yellow-legged frog, and the beginning of a success story. Every year, you help us reintroduce hundreds of mountain yellow-legged frogs into their native habitat, and the population is increasing. And now, conservation teams can track these camouflaged amphibians with the help of tiny microchips. The data shows how they use their habitat to hibernate, so we can protect the places they need most.

 

86

Critically endangered Grevy's zebras born at the Safari Park

Grevy's zebras on the savanna

2,250

Grevy's zebras left in their native habitat

Reading Between the Lines

The largest species of zebra, and the one with the rounded, fuzzy ears, Grevy’s zebras are critically endangered, with only about 2,250 left in their native habitat. Threatened by anthrax outbreaks, drought, habitat loss, and poaching, their numbers have diminished by over 50 percent in the last 30 years. Your support helps save this iconic African species as we work with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust in Kenya. San Diego Zoo Global also participates in the Species Survival Plan program to increase the population, and the 86 adorable, long-legged foals born at the Safari Park are helping to assure they don’t disappear.

 

60%

Decline in the African penguin population

An endangered African penguin on the beach

19%

Increase in African penguin populations because of conservation efforts!

Homes for Penguins

On the sunny coasts of South Africa, homes are scarce for endangered African penguins. They dig nest burrows in their guano, and most of it has been harvested as fertilizer while overfishing has left them with dwindling food supplies and oil spills threaten the waters they swim in. Luckily, they have friends like you! You’re providing them with artificial nestboxes and giving them homes to raise their families. Meanwhile, the colony at the Zoo is adding to the global population as part of the Species Survival Plan to bring these dapper birds back from the brink of extinction. We work closely with partners at SANCCOB in South Africa, rescuing and rehabilitating hundreds of injured and ill penguins every year, and reintroducing them to their sunny beach homes when healthy. This is only possible with your support!

 

 

 

Tecate cypress saplings in containers in a greenhouse

500

Endangered Tecate cypress saplings transplanted in 2013

Out of the Ashes

You help endangered species take root. Although adapted to fire with cones that only open and drop seed in intense heat, the Tecate cypress (found only in Southern California and northern Baja California) suffered a great blow when huge wildfires raged through San Diego County in 2003 and 2007. Slow growing species like Tecate cypress benefit greatly from having their seed preserved in long-term storage. Our Plant Conservation team collected this precious commodity from a small group that was spared during the fires. A portion is preserved in our Native Plant Seed Bank at the Safari Park and some was used to propagate new seedlings in our dedicated greenhouse. Of those, 500 seedlings were planted out in 2013 to establish a grove of these special trees in a spot in San Diego County. 

 

6

Giant panda cubs born at the San Diego Zoo

A giant panda looks off into the distance

 

 

Panda Friends Forever

Since the 1980s, friends like you have championed our efforts to save giant pandas. Even as they hovered on the brink of extinction, no one knew enough about the species to save them. So San Diego Zoo Global partnered with Chinese and U.S. government agencies to undertake a new model for conservation. When giant pandas came to live at the Zoo in 1996, scientists, veterinarians, and other wildlife care staff came together to learn about their behavior and reproduction. You fell in love with them too, and shared our joy through the years as we welcomed six adorable cubs. Your support helped increase the population and protect them in their native habitat. Today, threats still exist and our work continues, but with you by our side the future is bright for giant pandas.

 

 

 

A Fiji iguana in profile

1981

The year the first Fiji iguana was hatched in our care

Hope in Paradise

Brightly colored and patterned, Fiji iguanas are an eye-catching species that blend perfectly into their tropical habitat. Unfortunately, they can’t hide from threats to their survival, including introduced predators, invasive species that eat the same food, deforestation, and poaching. With your help, conservation partners are on the case to prevent them from going extinct. San Diego Zoo Global has worked with Fiji iguanas since 1965, and has established the most successful breeding colony outside of Fiji. We work with partners to track iguanas in their habitat, reintroduce them to safe areas, and support community-led protection of these gorgeous lizards.

 

12

Koalas rescued from brush fires earlier this year have been safely returned to their native habitat

A koala in a tree

1960

The year the first koala was born in the United States, at the San Diego Zoo

Action for Australia

When crisis strikes, wildlife counts on you. Earlier this year, you leaped into action for koalas, platypuses, and other iconic Australian wildlife threatened by raging wildfires. You sent San Diego Zoo Global wildlife care specialists Down Under to provide food, water, and medical care to displaced wildlife, including koalas, returning them to their native habitats when it was safe again. These marsupials are representatives of the most genetically diverse population of koalas in Australia, and were rescued from approaching bushfires in January. With your lifesaving support, they were reintroduced back into the eucalyptus forests of the Blue Mountains.

Your support also funds our regular work to keep koalas safe, protecting them from drought, habitat destruction, and conflict with humans. The Zoo was home to the first koalas outside of Australia, and today our assurance colony helps assure a genetically diverse global population as a safeguard against events like devastating wildfires in their native habitats.

 

2

The platypus is one of only two egg-laying mammals—the other is the echidna

A platypus swims through its aquatic habitat

2 

Platypuses live at the Safari Park, and they're the only members of their species outside Australia

One of a Kind

Platypuses are native to Australia, and are truly one of a kind. Found in freshwater streams, creeks, and rivers along the eastern coast of Australia, they're one of only two egg-laying mammals—a group known as monotremes. These unique animals are threatened by freshwater habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. Not only did you jump at the chance to protect them from wildfires, but your support protects rare and threatened platypuses and their aquatic habitats.

 

22

California condors left in their native habitat in the 1980s

A majestic condor in stares into the camera

515+

With your help, there are now more than 515 California condors

Soaring Success

The California condor was on the brink of extinction in 1982—only 22 of these majestic birds were left on the planet. With the support of friends like you, San Diego Zoo Global and the California Condor Recovery Program partners swooped in to save them. Through breeding, reintroduction programs, and intensive field management, there are now more than 515 condors, with more than 330 flying in their native habitat along the coastlines of California and Baja California! Many of those birds were hatched and reared right here at the Safari Park. It’s quite a comeback story! California condors are still endangered, and with your support, our decades of hard work to protect and care for them continue. Thank you for helping ensure that California condors are still with us in the 21st century!

 

 

 

An adorable Andean bear cub at the San Diego Zoo

 

 

Eyes On

The only bear species in all of South America, the Andean bear is found in the tropical Andes, from Venezuela to Bolivia. Mainly plant-eaters, they’re threatened by habitat loss, climate change, human conflict, and poaching. You’re helping conservationists gather critical data on these rare bears through a network of trail cameras, because learning how they use their habitat helps us protect it. Our goals are to determine not only where these bears live, but also how they interact with their environment and plants in their varied habitats—knowledge that will help create an effective conservation strategy. At the Zoo, Alba and Turbo, who also appeared on Animal Planet's The Zoo: San Diego, recently had a cub—a little boy named Agapito. His birth offers a rare opportunity for conservationists to observe mother-cub interactions, which will also help protect future generations.

 

105

The approximate number of lemur species, all native to Madagascar

A lemur holds its baby

 

 

Protecting Primates

The island of Madagascar is home to thousands of species found nowhere else, including lemurs, one of the most endangered groups of animals on Earth. Lemurs are poached, threatened by invasive species like cats and dogs, and their habitats cut down for illegal logging and forest clearing for agriculture and mining.The rate of habitat loss in Madagascar is alarming; however, with your support, we're working with conservation partners to safeguard these primates and their unique habitats. 

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has a study site in Maromizaha, a rain forest in eastern Madagascar, to study aye-ayes. Motion-activated trail cameras are used to learn about this little-known lemur’s natural behavior, and there are at least 13 lemur species in this area, so the cameras monitor lemur and other wildlife activities. In addition, our researchers work with local conservation educators to teach students about native wildlife. We've worked with red ruffed lemurs since the 1960s, and helped establish the assurance population in North American zoos. Our researchers are now at work in Madagascar to determine the most critical needs for protection, and working with local communities to help change practices that threaten lemur survival. 

 

 

 

A monarch butterfly lands on a bright purple flower

 

 

Citizen Science

The monarch butterfly population west of the Rockies is at less than one percent of its population’s historic size. San Diego Zoo Global is helping to drive action toward the future of western monarch butterflies. A collaborative project is in progress to better understand monarchs and their host plants in the Western US—and in need of your eyes and time! We encourage you to participate in the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper project, an easy and rewarding way for young and young-at-heart to help this beloved, endangered species.

 

Less 

than

80

Amur leopards remaining in their native habitat

An Amur leopard cub, snow leopard, and an African leopard in a tree

 

 

Well Spotted

Leopards around the world live in a wide variety of habitats, but face similar threats. African, Amur, and snow leopards all face problems with poaching, habitat loss, climate change, and conflict with humans. Your support helps us protect native habitat, work closely with local communities to find solutions that benefit people and cats alike, and learn more about these elusive cats. Working with our partners in Kenya and digital trail cameras, you're helping us keep an eye on African leopards through motion-activated trail cameras. The footage provides vital information about how these big cats use their habitat and critical insights, such as the presence of rare black leopards. And with your support, we’re part of Species Survival Plan programs to increase global populations of endangered Amur, clouded, and snow leopards, and global efforts to protect these rare cats and their habitats.

 

11

Giraffes are poached every day

A giraffe towers above the savanna, its head in the trees

40%

Decline in giraffe populations in recent years

Heads Above the Rest

With 40 percent of the population wiped out, giraffes are undergoing what experts call a "silent extinction." Your support funds anti-poaching patrols, snare removal, and community outreach to protect these watchtowers of the savanna. Our teams in Kenya are also tracking giraffes to learn more about these iconic animals, and volunteers like you have also helped researchers race against the clock to save them. You’ve identified species in over 1 million trail camera photos through our Wildwatch Kenya program, completing 10 years’ worth of conservation work in less than 2 years! 

 

 

 

A petite burrowing owl standing on the ground looks into the camera

 

 

Hatching Milestones

The western burrowing owl is at risk of extinction in San Diego County, and with your support, our Burrowing Owl Recovery Program is helping these bright-eyed birds bounce back. Dozens of chicks have been hatched at the Safari Park and reintroduced into their native habitat right here in San Diego County. Teams work with land management agencies to re-engineer open spaces so the feisty, feathered hunters can nest and find food. Some of those birds are now hatching their own chicks—a major milestone in recovering this tiny species. Meanwhile, friends like you help keep an eye on them with our citizen science project, Wildwatch Burrowing Owl.

 

1 million

More than 1 million students worldwide have benefited from Zoo and Safari Park education programs

An okapi calf peers out from behind its mother's legs

22

Species course modules available online for middle and high school students and teachers

Ending Extinction

Education is one of the most powerful tools we have in conserving species and inspiring generations. And now your young conservationists can join the fun from home! Middle school and high school students can learn about the wildlife you’re helping by taking San Diego Zoo Global Academy online courses for free. Through June 16, enjoy complimentary access to our Introduction to Animal Species courses, offering different topics each week that teach students about new species and familiar favorites.

Thank You!

You make all of this possible. Each and every day, support from friends like you helps save plants and animals around the world from extinction. We can't thank you enough for your support.

Together, We're Making a Difference

Your most generous gift today not only cares for countless animals and plants at the Zoo and Safari Park each and every day, it offers hope and reassurance to the world’s most extraordinary wildlife relying on us to survive.

JOIN US

Photo Credits | giraffe: 25ehaag6/iStock/Getty Images Plus, elephant: Andrew Linscott/E+/Getty Images, platypus: Frank Fichtmüller/iStock/Getty Images Plus,
koala: Freder/iStock /Getty Images, monarch butterfly: BobGrif/iStock/Getty Images Plus

rhino mom and baby

YOUR SUPPORT IS VITAL TO OUR FUTURE

Although the Zoo and Safari Park are temporarily closed, our team of dedicated specialists continue to care for countless animals and plants that depend on us each and every day.

Your continued support is critical to the wildlife in our care and vital to endangered species worldwide.

#WereHereTogether