1 million species under threat of extinction… find out what our attractions are doing to save the planet’s wildlife!

Endangered species Day is all about educating ourselves about our planet’s wildlife and understanding the threats we are posing. Take some time to find out what Yorkshire is doing to help…

Friday 17th May marks a very important day that seems to be gathering more force and emphasis year upon year. Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for us to take time to learn and teach others about the necessity to conserve and protect our wildlife, especially the endangered species of the world.

With the recent and alarming news that now 1 million species are under threat of extinction due to humans’ actions, what needs to be done to preserve them is a conversation all of us need to be having! However, it’s not all bad news because a lot is already being done to protect them…

Yorkshire Wildlife Park play a huge and crucial role in the conservation of endangered species… 10 species in particular! The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation is a charitable organisation that works hand-in-hand with 12 other wildlife charities to protect a range of animals. Animals such as the Amur leopard & tiger, giant otter, giraffe, blue-eyed black lemur, painted dog, black rhino and Bactrian camel, are all being supported in areas all over the world. In fact, Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s conservation efforts have spanned across all of the world’s continents (apart from Antarctica), notably protecting polar bears in the Arctic. Yorkshire Wildlife Park are the only place in the UK where you can see Polar Bears and therefore are one of the UK’s largest championing forces working to conserve them. Take a look at a list of projects the Foundation have worked on over the years to see for yourself what a fantastic job they’re doing.

Tropical World Leeds is a zoo making a difference. One of the species the Roundhay Park zoo houses is the aptly named cotton-top tamarin! This cute monkey is one of the smallest primates weighing less than 0.5kg. The species is naturally found in tropical forest edges in north-western Columbia. However, sadly the cotton-top tamarin is listed as critically endangered with only about 6,000 remaining in the wild. The species used to be captured for biomedical research during 1970s, however now they are at risk due to the intense damage being done to their habitats. Tropical World Leeds is not only helping conserve this precious species but they are also raising awareness and educating people on the threats it faces.

Conservation is at the heart of everything the award-winning aquarium The Deep does. From forging course-changing relationships with the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) to holding regular events raising awareness about conservation, such as their Endangered Species Weekend, The Deep do it all. The Deep now sits in the forefront for conservation, becoming actively involved in species assessments across the globe, informing critical conservation actions for the protection of our worlds most threatened species. It is also the place to go to see the only Green sawfish in the UK, this critically endangered and iconic species is the largest of the sawfish species reaching up to 7.3 meters!

Flamingo Land Resort has a staggering array of vulnerable (7), endangered (5) and critically endangered (6) species. Their role as a conservation organisation is made even more poignant by the fact that they look after a species that has gone extinct in the wild. The Scimitar-horned Oryx is a mostly white antelope with a reddish-brown neck and horns reaching 1.2m in length. They were once widespread throughout the semi-desert north and south of the Sahara, but due to excessive hunting for meat and hide, along with trophy hunting for their magnificent horns, they are now totally extinct in the wild. The Oryx’s have been at Flamingo Land Resort since 2000 and are part of the European breeding programme, which ensure diverse genetic stability in endangered species.

Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife & Falconry Centre are doing their bit to help conserve wildlife both within and outside of the UK. One of the main stars at the wildlife centre is their lemurs; IUCN have stated that 94% of lemurs are threatened with extinction. While Tropical Butterfly House are home to a couple of spectacled caimans (status: least concern) they have been doing their part to raise funds for loads of animal charities including raising £1,100 for the Gharial Conservation Alliance in 2017. Gharial crocodiles are native to the sandy freshwater riverbanks in the plains of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, but are the closest species of crocodile to extinction in the wild due to over fishing and loss of habitat. The money raised helps to stem the decline of these amazing creatures by focusing on the habitat protection enforcement of protected areas, education and cooperation with local people.

Not all endangered species are exotic and live in far-fetched countries, some have dwindled right in front of our eyes. Take a visit to Cannon Hall Farm’s rare breed barn to see species such as the pygmy goat, who are often mischievous and a joy to watch. If you’re a keen twitcher and want to see some birds on the edge then Harewood House houses some endangered feathered friends, including the Vietnamese Pheasant. These birds were only discovered relatively recently, in 1964, and are thought to be the rarest breed of pheasant in captivity. Listed as an endangered species, their population numbers are in continuous decline owing to the rapid destruction of their habitat and very high levels of hunting.