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Endangered Species Day: Creating a Bright Future

Categories: Conservation

Every third Friday of May, people around the world celebrate Endangered Species Day. Founded in 2006 by the Endangered Species Coalition and author David Robinson, this day fosters endangered species conservation efforts and education programs.

Grevy's zebra at the Sacramento Zoo

Wildlife conservation is the protection and preservation of animals, plants, and their environments and is vital to the Sacramento Zoo’s mission. Over the past decade, the Sacramento Zoo has donated more than $1 million to critical conservation efforts around the globe. The World Wildlife Fund found that an average of 68% of global wildlife populations have decreased between 1970 and 2016.  There are many stressors contributing to this decline, including habitat loss, climate change, illegal wildlife trade, and more. All these factors make wildlife conservation more important by the day. When species go extinct, it creates a ripple effect that directly impacts the entire ecosystem’s food, water, environment, and more. Wildlife and species conservation help ensure that ecosystems remain healthy and balanced.

Thirty-four endangered and critically endangered species call the Sacramento Zoo home, as seen in the list below.


Common Name

Scientific Name Status
California Tiger Salamander Ambystoma californiense Endangered
Axolotl Ambystoma mexicanum Critically Endangered
Golden Mantella Mantella aurantiaca Endangered
Green Mantella Mantella viridis Endangered
Desert Tortoise Gopherus agassizii Critically Endangered
African Pancake Tortoise Malacocherus tornieri Critically Endangered
Madagascar Spider Tortoise Pyxis arachnoides Critically Endangered
Madagascar Flat-tailed Tortoise Pyxis planicauda Critically Endangered
African Spur-thighed Tortoise Centrochelys sulcate Endangered
Galapagos Tortoise. Waiting for genetic testing results Endangered or Critically Endangered- Depends on what species/subspecies they end up being. Waiting on genetic testing results
Chinese Three-striped box Turtle Cuora trifasciata Critically Endangered
Hamiliton’s Pond Turtle Geoclemys hamiltonii Endangered
Chinese Stripe-necked Turtle Mauremys sinensis Critically Endangered
Madagascar Big-headed Turtle Erymnochelys madagascariensis Critically Endangered
Rhinoceros Iguana Cyclura cornuta Endangered
Chinese Crocodile Lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus Endangered
Puerto Rican Boa Epicrates inornatus Endangered
Catalina Rattlesnake Crotalus catalinensis Critically Endangered
Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus Endangered
Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonine Endangered
Bateleur Eagle Terathopius ecaudatus Endangered
Thick-billed Parrot Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha Endangered
Mongoose Lemur Eulemur mongoz Critically Endangered
Black and White Ruffed Lemur Varecia variegata Critically Endangered
White-handed Gibbon Hylobates lar Endangered
Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes Endangered
Sumatran Orangutan Pongo abelii Critically Endangered
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Endangered
Jaguar Panthera onca Endangered
Snow Leopard Panthera unica Endangered
Red Panda Ailurus fulgens Endangered
Grevy’s Zebra Equus grevyi Endangered
Okapi Okapia johnstoni Endangered
Bongo Tragelaphus eurycerus

Critically Endangered

Kamau the male African lion at the Sac Zoo sleeps while a group of children look on

Education is key in long-term, sustained conservation efforts. Dr. Eric Jensen, a specialist in science engagement and communication, found that 53% of school children that visited the ZSL London Zoo “had a positive change in conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for endangered species or new empowerment to participate in conservation efforts. The study shows that their trip around the zoo provided a statistically significant increase in scientific learning about animals and habitats.”

Just in this year alone, over 12,500 students visited the Sac Zoo on field trips.  Thus far in the 2021-2022 school year, our ZooMobile, a program that brings Animal Ambassadors into the community, visited 2,100 students in classrooms and 700 students virtually. All 15,300 of these children had the unique opportunity to learn about endangered species. Engaging children with meaningful, conservation experiences provide the best hope for a bright future for today’s endangered animals.

Want to learn more about the Sacramento Zoo’s conservation efforts? Learn all about the Employee Conservation Program!

Take action! Find ways that you can have an impact on wildlife conservation in your day-to-day life!

Want to help the Sac Zoo make a difference? Consider joining our Sustainer’s Circle and becoming a recurring donor!