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Extinct in the wild is a classification category on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Threatened Species List and occurs when a species only exists in captivity, cultivation, or outside their native range.

There are six main reasons why species become extinct in the wild:

  • Habitat loss;
  • Introduction of a foreign species;
  • Hunting;
  • Pollution;
  • Disease; and
  • Loss of genetic variation.

Not all animals classified as extinct in the wild are rare. For example, some species of fish may no longer be wild but are popular among aquarists and therefore have high population numbers. When possible, conservationists try to reintroduce extinct-in-the-wild species into their natural habitats. These efforts aren’t always successful — or viable — because even if their natural habitats are restored, the animals haven’t learned the necessary survival techniques to live on their own. After all, caretakers have looked after them for their entire lives in a pampered environment where handlers consistently and assiduously meet their food and lifestyle needs.

Currently, 39 animal species qualify as extinct in the wild.

Hawaiian Crow
Once believed to be a family guardian spirit in Hawaii
Pere Davids Deer
Has webbing between its toes, aiding in swimming!
Scimitar-horned Oryx
Believed to be the inspiration for unicorn myths!
Spixs Macaw
One of earth's rarest animals!
Wyoming Toad
Releases poison from neck glands for defense!