Endangered Species Day Is a Reminder of Our Responsibility to Protect Wildlife

Sophie Hirsh - Author

May 1 2023, Published 4:03 p.m. ET

A chimpanzee sits in grassland.
Source: Getty Images

A chimpanzee named N’dama sits in grassland during a bushwalk in the Savanah at the Chimpanzee Conservation Centre on Dec. 1, 2015 in Somoria, Guinea.

Protecting the planet's endangered species is crucial for a number of reasons. So every spring, people worldwide observe Endangered Species Day, in order to shine a light on just how vital it is to safeguard those animals and plants classified as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable.

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In the U.S. alone, there are more than 1,300 endangered or threatened species, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This means they are expected to become extinct in the near future if significant action isn't taken.

Keep reading to learn all about Endangered Species Day: when it is, why it's observed, and how you can get involved.

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A panda lies on a rock.
Source: Getty Images

A panda named YaZai, 11 years old, lies on the rock at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base on April 3, 2018 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China.

When is Endangered Species Day 2023?

Every year, Endangered Species Day falls on the third Friday in May, according to the Endangered Species Coalition. That means that this year, the holiday will be observed on Friday, May 19, 2023.

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And on Endangered Species Day 2023, the U.S. will also be celebrating 50 years of the Endangered Species Act, which was created in 1973.

When did Endangered Species Day start?

David Robinson and the Endangered Species Coalition founded Endangered Species Day in 2006, meaning 2023 marks the 18th annual holiday. The U.S. Senate officially enacted Endangered Species Day in 2006 as well.

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After founding Endangered Species Day, David Robinson formerly served as the Director of International Endangered Species Day. Previously, he wrote an award-winning booklet called San Diego’s Endangered Species among several other books, and served as a board member for various conservation organizations. Now, he is the founder and coordinator of The Endangered Species Conservation Site.

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How observe Endangered Species Day:

If you'd like to honor endangered animal and plant species this Endangered Species Day, here are a few ideas.

Find an official Endangered Species Day event near you, or a virtual one.

On the Endangered Species Coalition's website, you can find a map of events being held in honor of the 2023 Endangered Species Day, from panels and seminars to scavenger hunts and kayak rides. You can search your zip code or zoom in on the map to narrow your search.

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Participate in the Endangered Species Chalk Art Event.

One such event is the third annual nationwide Endangered Species Chalk Art Event, being held from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. The Endangered Species Coalition is inviting people of all ages to create chalk art featuring an endangered or a threatened plant or animal species. Then, just publicly post a photo of your chalk art on Instagram, and use the hashtag #EndangeredSpeciesChalkArt and tag @endangeredspeciescoalition in your caption, to enter yourself to win a prize.

Read a book or watch a documentary about endangered species.

Sir David Attenborough stands in front of a body of water, wearing binoculars around his neck.

Sir David Attenborough introduces the 'Wild Isles' series at dawn at Old Harry's Rocks, Dorset.

The Endangered Species Coalition's website has a long list of suggested reading and viewing related to endangered species, for children and adults alike. You'll find plenty of recommendations on Green Matters as well, including some of the best environmental documentaries, eco-charged documentaries, environmental books for children, and banned books about the environment.

Honor the 50-year anniversary of the Endangered Species Act with monthly activities.

During each month of 2023, the National Wildlife Federation is hosting a number of educational activities in honor of 2023 being the 50-year anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. These activities can be joined from all across the U.S., and they include include a nationwide art project, an essay contest, the Great American Campout, and more.

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