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Join Jessi and Squeaks as they talk about some things you can do to make the earth a better place!

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Happy Earth Day, everyone! Earth Day is a special day celebrated all over the world on April 22 every year. On Earth Day, people come together to learn about how we can protect the environment and keep Earth clean and healthy.

The reason it's important to protect the environment is that we share the Earth with lots of amazing plants and animals, and some of the things that we do, like chop down trees, generate electricity, and drive cars, can affect the places those plants and animals live. 

Sometimes we can affect those places so much that animals have a hard time finding food and shelter or having babies and they become endangered. Here's some information about a few of those endangered animals and what we're doing to help them.

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 that 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 60 Amur leopards left 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.

*squeak noises*  

That's right, Squeaks! An animal's habitat is its home. It's where an animal can get all the things that it needs to stay alive. Animals need things like enough food to eat, space to move around, and shelter. Plus, mother animals need a safe place to lay their eggs or to

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their babies, so habitats can be very different for different kinds of animals.

One animal's habitat might keep it dry and warm. For another, it might keep it 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 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 live to use for lumber and to make space for them to build houses, so, over time, the leopards' 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 70 years ago, people sprayed a chemical around to try to 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 pelicans 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 an

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animal is endangered. People can work together to try and 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.

There are lots of ways that we can pitch in and help the environment. One thing that you can do is find ways to make less garbage that ends up in a dump. And a great way to do that is by recycling. When you recycle things like plastic and paper, it gets taken away and made into new things instead of just being thrown in a dump.

Here's how that works. 

Nice work, Squeaks. We're taking out the trash. You probably don't spend much time thinking about trash, at least, not until it starts to smell and you have to take it out. But we all make trash everyday like the eggshells left over from breakfast, or the plastic bag from your lunch or metal cans that your mom or dad might open up at dinnertime. Plus, we bring a lot of papers home from school and they don't all fit on the refrigerator. We usually throw a lot of this trash or waste into the garbage can but did you ever wonder what happens to all this waste? Well, it doesn't just magically disappear and what happens to it depends on what it's made of. For example, some waste decomposes. When something decomposes, it breaks down or rots. If you've ever taken a walk in the woods, then you've probably noticed things decomposing like the leaves that fell last autumn or an old log. You can tell that those things are decomposing because they are very slowly getting brown and mushy. They decompose because those things came from something that was once alive. The leaves and the logs were once parts of a tree. And we make waste that decomposes too. 

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Usually this waste was also made of things that were once alive, like apple cores, egg shells, banana peels, and pretty much all of the leftover food from your table. This kind of waste can be put to good use as food for your garden called compost. We're gonna talk about how you can make compost in another episode. But what about the waste that doesn't rot or break down? Some of this waste goes into a dump, also known as a landfill. And it basically just sits there, making a big, smelly mess. And it'll keep sitting there, for a long, long time. Luckily, there is a way that you can get rid of your waste without adding to that mess. By recycling! Recycling means taking waste, and making it into something else. Maybe you have a recycling bin like this in your school, or even in your own house. Things that we can recycle include metal, plastic, and paper. So let's check out what happens to the waste that you put into the recycling bin. First, all of the recycling is collected, and sorted into different kinds of waste. All of the plastic goes into one pile. All the metal, in another. And the paper gets its own pile. The metal is taken to a special factory where it's crushed, and then squished together with the metal for other recycling bins. This big lump of metal is then chopped into little tiny pieces. Next, those pieces are melted in a big oven, and then poured into molds shaped like blocks. These new blocks of metal are then sent to other factories, where they can be used to make other things out of metal. So the metal cans that you throw into the recycling bin don't go to the dump. They get a whole new life as a new can! Or a piece of foil, or even part of a bike or a car. And your old milk jug made of plastic can be turned into something new too. It's also taken to a special factory where the plastic is shredded into tiny bits, and then melted in a really hot oven and made into little pellets. Factories can take these pellets and make them into new things like water bottles and food containers. And even bigger things like park benches, carpet, and even some kinds of clothing. So what, about all those papers that you've brought home?

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