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5 unique endangered species you probably haven't heard of

In honor of Endangered Species Day (May 16), we take a look at some of the fascinating creatures whose numbers are dwindling.

  1. Saola, the "Asian Unicorn"

    What is the saola? Is it a goat? An antelope? A cow? A real life unicorn? Scientists aren't really sure. In fact, not much is known about the creature - the first specimen was spotted only 22 years ago.

    How many are left? Estimates range from a few dozen to a few hundred. In other words, if you see one, it might be a good day to play the lottery.

    How can they be helped? Forests guard patrols are working to remove hunters' snares, which are a major threat to the species. The World Wildlife Fund is also helping conservation efforts.

  2. Bonobos, the pygmy chimp

    Usually under 3 feet tall, this species was the last great ape to be recognized by scientists. And no, you're not the only one who thinks they look like little people. Just like chimps, these little cuties share 98.7% of their DNA with humans.

    How many are left? Fewer than 50,000 and rapidly declining

    How can they be helped? You can adopt a bonobo! (No, not physically adopt one. They are endangered, after all.)

  3. Hawaiian Monk Seal, "Dog Running in the Rough Sea"

    Locals have a special name for this seal because it so closely resembles man's best friend, especially in the face. Hawaiians have a special reverence for this monk seal, as it is the only marine mammal that can't be found anywhere else.

    How many are left? Fewer than 1,100

    How can they be helped? These seals get a bad rep, as many believe they're an invasive species. A large group of animal lovers have come together to fight that myth, hoping to stop intentional killing of the animal.

  4. Leatherback Turtle, the seemingly shell-less wonder

    These giant turtles got their name from the layer of skin that keeps their shell hidden. In addition to being the largest turtles around, they're also the fastest, clocking in at 22 miles per hour (under water, of course).

    How many are left? It depends on the sub-species, but some are critically endangered

    How can they be helped? Like other sea turtles, the main threats to this species come from humans, like when newborns get attracted to hotel lights and never make it to the sea. Read up on the threats so you know how to avoid being part of the problem.

  5. Tree Kangaroo, the wannabe sloth

    The tree kangaroos can't really decide what they want. Once upon a time, kangaroos' ancestors lived in trees, but then they climbed down. But the tree kangaroo - you guessed it - climbed back up. The result is a strange but adorable cross between its namesake and a lemur.

    How many are left? It depends on the sub-species, but many are critically endangered. There are only around 50 Wondiwoi tree kangaroos left.

    How can they be helped? Hunting is a major problem for these creatures. The World Wildlife Fund is combating this issue by maintaining protected areas and providing education about the risks.

To learn more about endangered species, check out the animals featured on the National Wildlife Federation's facebook page.
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