Today is Endangered Species Day (ESD), a day established to raise awareness of the issues – both human and ecological – that face endangered species and their habitats. Here at the National Aquarium, our mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. We hope that by connecting with guests and our online community, others will be inspired to join us in protecting our disappearing wildlife.
Threats such as habitat loss, climate change and species exploitation have seriously degraded once richly bio-diverse ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef and Amazon Rain Forest.
In the United States, more than 1,300 species of plants and animals are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as either threatened or endangered – and an estimated 500 species have gone extinct since the 1600s.
Here in the National Aquarium, we represent 16 species that are threatened or endangered, including the following two species, which can be found in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit:
Panamanian Golden Frog Critically endangered
Considered by locals to be a symbol of good fortune and luck, this species has seemingly run out of both.
Once abundantly found in the tropical forests of Panama, the golden frog is now considered extinct in the wild. An infectious disease affecting amphibians, chytridiomycosis, has virtually wiped out the frogs in Panama (and an estimated one-third of amphibian species worldwide). Additionally, deforestation and collection for the pet trade have also contributed to the decline of Panamanian golden frogs.
Zoos and Aquariums throughout North America have been participating in breeding programs to try and reintroduce these animals into their native habitat.
Golden Lion Tamarin Endangered
Native to the coastal rain forests of Brazil, there were fewer than 200 golden lion tamarins reported in the wild in 1970.
Habitat loss and fragmentation, capture for the pet trade and hunting have caused a serious decline of populations of these animals. Although many of these threats have been reduced, the number of golden lion tamarins is still low with limited possibilities for growth due to their restricted range.
Currently, only about 1,500 golden lion tamarins can be found in the wild. Approximately 30 percent of those animals were either relocated from depleted areas or released as part of a reintroduction program. The tamarins at the Aquarium are part of a group managed by the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, headquartered at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. This group oversees the management of both the wild population of golden lion tamarins in Brazil and the captive population worldwide.
Here are a few things YOU can do to help protect endangered species:
Want to learn more about endangered species? Join the conversation on Twitter by following @NatlAquarium and using #ESDay!