Children and adults alike adore cute and cuddly animals that have been an inspiration for stuffed animals and toys over many years. But over these same years, some of these animal species have come dangerously close to extinction and without a conscious effort driven by people to save these animals, these species may have disappeared for good. This is a list of well-known cute animals that are loved by people all around the world, yet continue in their struggle to keep their species off of the extinction list.
1. Sea Otters
The sea otter population in their native waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean plummeted over a period lasting until the earlier part of the 20th century, at which point efforts were made to ban hunting and to protect these animals, which are still considered to be endangered today. Sea otters are still affected by other human disturbances such as oil spills, which have far-reaching, lasting effects on the ecosystem.
2. Loggerhead Sea Turtles
The greatest threat for loggerhead turtles are fishing traps and gear that are used widely in open waters. In addition, commercial developments and artificial lighting on sandy beaches along loggerhead nesting grounds threaten the survival of loggerhead hatchlings.
3. Giant Pandas
The giant panda bear population was threatened by the population boom in China during the latter part of the 20th century at which point, industrial development and deforestation resulted in the loss of their natural habitat. As a response to the decline in panda numbers, conservation efforts to save the wild pandas have allowed the panda population to slowly recover.
4. Northern Rockhopper Penguins
This particular species of penguin declined in population by 90% over the past 30 years. Though the exact reasons for this are unknown, the change in climate, pollution and overfishing by humans are cited as potential causes for their struggle to survive.
5. Hawaiian Monk Seals
An estimated 1100 Hawaiian monk seals are in existence today and this species is considered to be critically endangered. Human disturbances which include entanglement in fishing nets and overfishing of lobsters surrounding the Hawaiian islands have caused the endangerment of these monk seals.