11 Endangered Animals That May Surprise You

You definitely know these endangered animals 🐯

While most people know what an endangered animal is (for those who don’t, it’s a species who is getting dangerously close to extinction), it’s sometimes a sad surprise to learn that one of your favorite animals has made the list.

In fact, some of our favorite animals can become extinct in our lifetime unless conservation efforts can help save them.

What makes an animal endangered?

A species of animal is considered endangered when its population has declined between 50 and 70 percent over the course of 10 years or three generations of that species (whichever is longer).

There are also different levels of threatened animals as defined by The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List:

Vulnerable: A species considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild
Endangered: A species considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild
Critically Endangered: A species facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

11 of the most endangered animals

These are 11 of the most endangered animals in the world today and some surprising facts for kids and adults to know about them.

We’ve also included options to symbolically adopt these amazing animals, which obviously doesn’t mean you’d have a new baby leopard in your home, but instead contributes to the efforts to save and conserve these endangered animals.

1. African Forest Elephant

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Found in the dense rainforests of west and central Africa, these social animals love living in large family groups. They eat fruits and berries and play a critical role in dispersing various tree species throughout forests.

Adopt an African forest elephant

2. Orangutan

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Found in lowland forests, these shaggy, orange apes love eating fresh fruits and building nests high up in trees to sleep at night (or rest during the day). Orangutan males can get up to 200 pounds!

Adopt an orangutan

3. Eastern Lowland Gorilla


The largest of the four gorilla subspecies, these massive animals love eating fruits and other herbivorous materials. They live in the lowland tropical rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and are susceptible to poaching.

Adopt a gorilla

4. Black Rhino

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One of the two species of African rhinos, the black rhino is just a bit smaller than her cousin, the white rhino. Due to European hunters and settlers, the black rhino population dropped a staggering 98 percent back in 1995, but has made a comeback due to conservation efforts and is sitting at just above 5,000 in the wild. Though still considered critically endangered, this is a comeback story we’d love to tell.

Adopt an African rhino

5. Sunda Tiger

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Under constant threat from poachers and deforestation, only about 400 Sunda tigers are left on the island of Sumatra.

Adopt a tiger

6. Sea Lions

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Found on the coasts of all sorts of waters, sea lions are playful creatures who love living in groups on rocks and sandy shores. Strong swimmers, they jump in the water to cool off and eat (their diet consists mainly of fish).

Adopt a sea lion

7. Amur Leopard


These majestic creatures are found roaming the temperate and mixed forests of Russia. They can run up to 37 miles per hour and live for approximately 10–15 years (20 in captivity).

Adopt an Amur leopard

8. Hawksbill Turtle

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These sea turtles are found in tropical waters (mainly around coral reefs). They help maintain the health of both coral reefs and seagrass beds.

Adopt a sea turtle

9. Red Panda


High in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and southwestern China, red pandas use their long, busy tails for balance and to keep themselves warm in the winter.

Adopt a red panda

10. African Wild Dog

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Living in Africa (mainly southern Africa and the southern parts of East Africa), African wild dogs love to live in packs of as little as 10 but up to 40! They can reach speeds up to 44 miles per hour.

Adopt an African wild dog

11. Whale

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Found throughout the world’s oceans, whales can reach up to 100 feet in length — and weigh up to 200 tons! Even though they live underwater, these warm-blooded mammals breathe air.

Adopt a whale

Endangered animals are at risk of extinction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Join the efforts in preserving wildlife (and maybe even adopt one of your favorites!) to help keep conservation efforts top of mind — and action.