Celebrating Endangered Species Day

It’s Endangered Species Day! Did you know? The American Alligator was one of the first endangered species success stories. According to US Fish & Wildlife, historically, alligators were depleted from many parts of their range as a result of market-hunting and habitat loss. Forty years ago many people believed this unique reptile would never recover. Because it was considered in danger of extinction, the American alligator was listed as endangered in 1967 under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  Later, it was one of the first animals officially protected under the Endangered Species Act.

A combined effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and State wildlife agencies in the South saved these unique animals. The Endangered Species Act prohibited alligator hunting, allowing the species to rebound in numbers in many areas where it had been depleted. As it began to make a comeback, States established alligator monitoring programs and used the information to ensure that numbers continued. And in 1987, the Fish and Wildlife Service pronounced the American alligator fully recovered and consequently removed the animal from the list of endangered species, making it one of the first endangered species success stories.

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At Adventure Aquarium, we are lucky enough to have a VERY visual and symbolic reminder of the success of the Endangered Species Act in the form of an 800 pound, 14 foot American alligator named Mighty Mike; who, without efforts to protect endangered species in the wild, could very well not be here today! The species – along with hundreds of other endangered species – would have dwindled to extinction.

Since being rescued in 2000 from a boat dock in Lake Talquin, Florida, Mighty Mike has become a traveling ambassador for American Alligators. He has captivated millions across the country with his enormous size and inspiring story – helping to increase public awareness of the importance of alligators in the wild and their value as a sustainable natural resource.

On Endangered Species Day, we commemorate the passing of the Endangered Species Act, which was enacted to halt the rapid loss of plant and animal life. Frequently referred to as the “crown jewel” of our nation’s environmental laws, the ESA has been responsible for saving many species formerly on the brink of extinction.

Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions that people can take to help protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife. Encourage your children to “be a M.E.S.S.” and take our Mighty Endangered Species Supporter pledge today for the chance to win cool prizes!

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