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What's something pandas, orangutans, rhinos, and gorillas have in common? They're all endangered animals. Join Jessi and Squeaks to learn how an animal becomes endagered and what we can do to help them!
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What do pandas, orangutans, rhinos, and gorillas have in common?

Aside from being animals that you probably only see at the zoo, these animals are all endangered. Scientists say an animal is ‘endangered’ when there aren’t many of them living in the wild anymore.

And any kind of animal can become endangered -- birds, insects, reptiles, and of course, mammals. For example, meet the Amur leopard. This kind of leopard lives in a small area in Eastern Asia.

And there are only a very few of them left in the wild. Scientists think that, not counting the ones in zoos, there are only about sixty Amur leopards on the entire planet! So they’re definitely endangered.

But how do animals become endangered? There are a few good answers to that question. But probably the common cause of animals becoming endangered is when they lose too much of their habitat.

An animal’s habitat is the place where it lives… that’s right Squeaks! An animal’s habitat is its home. It’s where an animal can get all of the things that it needs to stay alive.

Animals need things like enough food to eat, clean water to drink, air to breathe, space to move around, and shelter. Plus, mother animals need a safe place to lay their eggs or to have and raise their babies. So, habitats can be very different, for different kinds of animals.

One animal’s habitat might help keep it dry and warm. For another, it might help an animal stay cool, wet, and well-hidden from predators. An animal’s habitat might be large, or it might be very small.

But there’s one thing that all habitats have in common. They can only support so many animals. If a habitat starts to get smaller, that means that fewer animals can live in it.

This is what happened to the Amur leopard. Its habitat used to be a lot bigger. But people started to cut down trees in the forest where the leopard lived, to use for lumber and to make space to build houses.

So over time, the leopard’s habitat got smaller and smaller. The leopards started to have a hard time finding enough food, and finding enough safe spaces to raise their cubs. So after a while, there were fewer and fewer Amur leopards in the wild, until there were so few that scientists said that this kind of leopard was endangered.

Pollution can also change an animal’s habitat. Pollution is anything that makes the earth unhealthy, like litter and trash, or the dirty smoke that comes out of cars and power plants. Pollution can also prevent the eggs of certain kinds of birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians from hatching. Pollution changed the habitat of a bird called the brown pelican.

The brown pelican lives near the ocean, where it eats fish. And about seventy years ago, people sprayed a chemical around to try and get rid of pesky insects like mosquitoes. But the chemical polluted the water in the brown pelican’s habitat. Some pollution ended up in the fish that the pelicans ate, which made the birds sick, and kept many of their eggs from hatching.

Soon, there were fewer pelicans. For a while, the brown pelican was endangered. But scientists and other people solved the problem!

They told other people about the problem, and soon everyone stopped using the chemical, and the pelican’s habitat became clean again. More baby pelicans began to hatch, and in most places the brown pelican is no longer endangered! This big brown bird is a great example of what can happen when we find out that an animal is endangered.

People can work together to try to clean up an animal’s habitat if it’s polluted. Or, if an animal’s habitat is getting too small, like the Amur leopard’s forest, people can try to plant more trees to make the habitat bigger again. Now, you may not know it, but you’re helping endangered animals right now!

One of the best things that kids can do to help is to learn about animals that are endangered. You can also help out animals that live in your area by taking care of their habitats. That means doing things like recycling, and throwing away garbage instead of littering, and working with other kids and grownups to clean up your neighborhood!

Everyone deserves a clean and healthy habitat. Thanks for joining us on SciShow Kids! Do you have a question about your favorite animal—or something else? Ask a grownup to help you to leave a comment down below, or to send an email to Kids@SciShow.com.

Thanks! We'll see you next time here at the Fort!