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Joel Sartore- Photo Ark  Founder of the @Natgeo Photo Ark, a 25-year project to show the world the beauty of biodiversity in all its forms, and inspire action to save species

The African lion population has declined nearly 90% in the last 50 years. With most of their remaining habitat outside of national parks, friendly community action is key to their survival, and Pride Lion Conservation Alliance (PRIDE) is working to reverse the decline. Consisting of five different lion conservation projects, PRIDE is a new model of collaboration that works across different African countries to save more lions by working with and inspiring local peoples. Collectively these projects employ 450 locals from four lion range countries and are protecting nearly 25% of Africa’s estimated remaining wild lions. Click the link in my bio to learn how you can become part of the pride, protecting this species in the wild. Photo taken @theomahazoo.

This orange brittlestar photographed @gulfspecimen can be found in a variety of habitats around the world and plays an important role in the food web when eaten by fish, other sea stars and crabs. It is also known as a “seafloor ecosystem engineer,” meaning it modifies, creates, or maintains habitat for other species that occupy the seafloor. The orange brittlestar plays an important role in maintaining the health of the ocean and you can too! Whenever you visit the beach this year, challenge yourself to pick up and properly dispose of at least 5 pieces of trash – that might not seem like a lot, but together our efforts can have a huge impact!

Photographed @zooplzen, the Pallas's squirrel is found naturally throughout much of southeastern Asia, but there is a chance you might spot this species in other countries around the globe. They're ​often found in the pet trade and are great at escaping from cages no matter where they've been taken, leading them to become accidentally introduced in Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Japan. In these regions the Pallas’s squirrel is considered an invasive species and can cause considerable damage to trees and may out-compete native wildlife such as red squirrels.

Become a penguin protector on Penguin Awareness Day by choosing to consume ocean-friendly seafood! By caring for the ocean habitats marine animals depend on we can save species like this African penguin photographed @hoglezoo. Although all penguins are protected from hunting and egg collecting, many face threats from overfishing, habitat loss, introduced predators and oil pollution. This species is considered endangered as their population has been reduced by over 97 percent in the last 100 years. Help change the tide by downloading the @seafoodwatch app today and ensure the seafood on your plate has been caught in a way that doesn’t negatively impact ocean health.

Grizzly bears like this one photographed at @sedgwickcountyzoo are what we call an “umbrella species,” meaning that when we protect them we protect many other species that share the same habitat. Grizzlies are also key to keeping the ecosystem healthy as they distribute seeds and nutrients through their scat and occasionally regulate populations ​of hoofed mammals​. Bears get into trouble when they rummage through people’s garbage, attack livestock, are struck by cars/trains or are hunted illegally. By preventing these conflicts we can keep bears alive and on the road to recovery.

Distinguished by its characteristic white beard, the L'Hoest's monkey can be found in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, and western Uganda. Traditionally a forest dweller, it occupies a variety of different kinds of forested areas, but in recent years this monkey has also been found living on cultivated lands. Why? Deforestation is taking place on the eastern edge of the of the species' home range, primarily as a result of agricultural expansion, mining, and logging. Thankfully the L’Hoest’s monkey has a large distribution and most reside within largely inaccessible woodlands that provide protection for the species This video was taken thanks to the support of @greenteenteam at Parco Natura Viva.

Though you wouldn't know it from the name, the Oregon spotted frog is now the most endangered amphibian species in Canada due in large part to habitat destruction, increased pollution, disease, and the introduction of non-native species like the bullfrog (which devour nearly any moving thing they can) and reed canary grass. As part of the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Program, Vancouver Aquarium (@vanaqua) has released tadpoles of this endangered species back into the wild for the ninth year in a row. Since 2010, over 20,000 tadpoles have been produced by the Aquarium and recovery program partners in an effort to bolster the local population. In addition to releases, habitat management, monitoring, and restoration are all conducted because these frogs cannot survive without connected wetlands and floodplains to call home. Photo taken @sunriver_nature_center

Today is appreciate a dragon day! While we don’t have a dragon of mythical proportions in the Photo Ark, we can introduce you to this little guy – the dragon-headed katydid! Katydids belong to a huge family which consists of over 6,000 species and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The diet of katydid species includes leaves, flowers, bark, and seeds, but many species are exclusively predatory, feeding on other insects, snails or even small vertebrates such as snakes and lizards. As a result, some are considered pests by commercial crop growers and are sprayed to control them. Keeping your garden chemical and pesticide free will help to protect katydids and many other species that depend on the plants in your backyard as a source of food and shelter. Photo taken at Malacca Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary.

This kakapo named Sirocco is an ambassador for his species @visit_zealandia in New Zealand. When he isn’t busy touring different zoos and nature centers, Sirocco spends his time in the wild on a predator-free island in New Zealand, part of the Kakapo Recovery Plan which was first implemented in the 1980s. The plan involved the rounding up and relocation of kakapos to safe places in the wild, setting up supplementary feeding stations for the birds, and sometimes artificial incubation of their eggs and hand-raising of chicks. The effort has saved the kakapo from extinction for now, but the species remains critically endangered.

Let’s take a look at one of nature’s more unusual pollinators – the South African large-spotted genet. This meat-eating mammal recently surprised researchers when it was caught on camera not only visiting, but pollinating sugarbush plants. These plants, which give off an odor similar to that of sour milk, are frequently visited by rodents. Genets are thought to be only occasional visitors to these flowers but play an important role in spreading the pollen as they travel much farther distances than smaller species with more restricted home ranges. Photo taken @cincinnatizoo.

This Ozark hellbender from @stlzoo, is an important indicator species of environmental quality within the stream and river systems that we use for food, water, and recreation. Unfortunately, decades of decline have led to this species becoming quite rare throughout its home range in the Appalachian and Ozark regions of the United States. Determined to turn things around, member facilities of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (@zoos_aquariums) have contributed to hellbender conservation through developing rearing and husbandry techniques, conducting population assessments, participating in stream restoration and habitat management, and assisting with reintroduction and translocation efforts for thousands of hellbenders over the past two decades.

Populations of American burying beetles east of the Appalachians were in severe decline as early as the 1920s. A captive breeding program @stlzoo, where this photo was taken, has produced thousands of American beetle offspring and set them back into the wild. This beetle is a good parent, feeding and sheltering its young near animal carcasses they've buried, like mice and small birds. This beetle's unusual method of hiding food returns nutrients to the earth to nourish vegetation and keeps ant and fly populations in check at the same time!

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