The bald eagle, American alligator and Louisiana black bear are just three of the nearly 300 species revived by the Endangered Species Act -- 50 years since it first took affect.
The Endangered Species Act turns 50 years old this year and National Geographic is highlighting the many animals the act protects.
"It's the world's first basic Bill of Rights for species other than humans," said National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore. "The ESA makes sure that our water and our soil is protected, that habitats are protected, that these animals have money for captive-breeding projects that help reinforce the wild populations."
The act makes it illegal for anyone to harm animals that are listed as endangered or threatened.
National Geographic photographer and explorer Joel Sartore has spent the last decade photographing 15,000 species for the National Geographic photo ark.
"The real goal is to get the public to wake up and realize that as these animals go away, we have to have clean water and clean air and good soil to survive ourselves," Sartore said. "These animals -- by saying to us that their world is changing and not in a good way -- we need to listen to them."
His images bring an awareness and inspire animal lovers to take action and aid in conservation effort.
"We can look them right in the eye and really pay attention and see that there is great intelligence there and beauty and grace," Satore said. "All these wonders are there, and you see the whole world in the eye of an animal like that."
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the ESA, Sartore and National Geographic is highlighting some of the endangered or threatening species like the black-footed ferret, the California desert turtle, the American wood stork and the St. Andrew beach mouse.
"The world's a big place and we hear a lot of negative news all the time, but all is not lost, and we can actually save species starting right in our own communities," Sartore said.
You can learn more about the Endangered Species Act on National Geographic's website and in the magazine's January edition.
Disney is the parent company of National Geographic and this ABC station.