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05172015_1You probably don't realize it but the Franklin's bumblebee is counting on you. So too is the Dusky gopher frog, and the Vaquita. The who? The existence of creatures you may not even know about relies on people protecting them. Franklin's bumblebee, the Dusky gopher frog, and the Vaquita (the smallest species of porpoise) are among over 16,000 species worldwide facing extinction.

05172015_3National Endangered Species Week exists in hopes that endangered species, like Lange's Metalmark Butterfly, the Black Rhino, the Leatherback Turtle, the Tahoe stonefly, and the Saola will continue to exist and some day thrive in the wild. It aims to persuade you to protect the flora and fauna in your community. Perhaps it's because you appreciate the hum of Franklin's bumblebee as it pollinates your favorite fruit, the magical sight of a Vaquita flying across the open ocean, or the amusing snoring-like call of a Dusky gopher frog. Or, perhaps you are more practical and you simply acknowledge the interdependence of our lives with other species. Plants and animals provide food and medicine, clean water and air. We--and they--are part of a web of life. 

Commemorate National Wildlife Extinction Week by learning more about what it means to be 'endangered,' meet a few of the animals living on the brink of survival. Discover how humans' actions--your actions--affect specific creatures.

What does it mean to be 'endgangered'? What do you think are the most common causes for a species' numbers to decline? Check your understanding with KidsDiscover's Spotlight on endangered species

05172017_4The numbers are grim: 1 in 4 mammals, 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 3 amphibians, and 1 in 3 corals are at risk of extinction. Launch Visual.ly's interactive guide to the world's most endangered species. Use the scroll bar on the right to peruse the list of top 100 most endangered species. Which are you familiar with? Which are a surprise to you? And which did you never know existed? Scroll down and click on the option to view a world map of endangered animals. What patterns do you notice? Are there places with higher numbers of endangered species? Do certain types of creatures (ie mammals, insects, birds...) have more species on the endangered list? Why do you think this is? Reflect on the reasons for species extinction outlined by KidsDiscover; do species in some regions of the world face one threat more than others? 

Learn more about 30 of the world's endangered species and the forces and habits that threaten them. Launch In Pieces, an interactive exhibit that uses artistic works to introduce viewers to 30 species facing extinction. Be sure to click 'What's the Threat' in the right column and to watch the videos. 

05172015_5To save a species takes change, cooperation, and organization. Forty years ago, the Endangered Species Act was adopted to spearhead efforts to protect flora and fauna. The Endangered Species Act guards the world's biodiversity by protecting endangered species and habitats. Discover more about the movement to protect our environment and Earth's biodiversity; watch the U.S. Forest and Wildlife Service video, The Endangered Species Act

What species are threatened in your homestate? Vist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service interactive map to find out. Click on your homestate. Read about the Featured Species. Find the 'Unique to' or 'Found In' section in the right margin. Click to see other threatened species. Which are most threatened? (Click 'status' to read more about the different designations.) Which native species have you heard of and which are new to you? What might you do to protect some--which and how?

05172015_2Conservation and environmental groups are often successful at garnering public concern for cute or beautiful threatened species like the Giant panda or the Monarch butterfly. But what of the other endangered amphibians, insects, and less famous mammals? Emergency efforts to bring a species back from the brink of extinction never easy. They are even more challenging when the species is remote and not as cute as a panda, like Angel's Madagascar frog. (Sorry Mr. Frog.) Remember the list of common causes of extinction--how people, individually and as a community, interact with the natural world makes a difference. The takeaway: How you interact with the natural world matters. Critters, creatures, and plants depend on your acting compassionately and responsbily. What footprint do you leave? How much space do you leave for other species' footprints?