Endangered species are those that are currently in existence but that may not be for much longer unless the right steps are taken to safeguard them.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a global authority that determines the endangered status of a species and subspecies using a set of criteria to evaluate their extinction risk. The IUCN Red List is a recognised guide to the status of biological diversity.

With more than 23,000 species threatened with extinction, each is assigned a ranking from Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild and Extinct.

Here at Paignton Zoo, we care for a number of endangered species, many of which you will know about including the Western lowland gorilla, Bornean orang utan, black rhinoceros, African elephant and northern giraffe to name a few.

Here are just a few that you may not know about, that can be seen at Paignton Zoo…

Species: Edwards’s Pheasant
Latin name: Lophura edwardsi
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The Edwards’s pheasant is endemic to the rainforests of Vietnam and it most at risk from deforestation and hunting, but has also suffered from the use of defoliants during the Vietnam War.

A very timid species, the male is blue-black in colour while the female is brown, both have red facial skin and red legs.

In 2012 the conservation status of the Edwards’s Pheasant was upgraded to Critically Endangered.

Here at Paignton Zoo, we have 2 breeding pairs of Edwards’s pheasants which are studied to help understand how to best prepare birds for release in the wild. This year, research includes comparing the behaviour of hand reared chicks versus parent reared, how long young will stay with their parents as well as ideal roosting heights.

We also support conservation work for this species in Vietnam and have a 12 year plan with the aim of providing a sustainable, free-living population of Edwards’s Pheasants.

Species: Cuban crocodile
Latin name: Crocodylus rhombifer
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Cuban crocodiles can only be found in Cuba's Zapata Swamp and the Isle of Youth, favouring a freshwater habitat. Their diet consists mainly of fish, turtles, birds and the occasional small mammal.

A medium sized crocodile species, their typical length is 2-2.3m in length although large males can grow to as long as 3.5m. They are a highly aggressive species of crocodile and potentially dangerous to humans.

Cuban crocodiles are at threat from hunting for their skins and meat, their swamp habitats being damaged by agriculture, charcoal production and hybridization (the cross breeding of Cuban and American crocodiles), making them one of the world’s most threatened species of crocodile.

Our pair of Cuban crocodiles can be seen at the Crocodile Swamp exhibit.

Species: Brown spider monkey
Latin name: Ateles hybridus
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The brown spider monkey lives in the tropical rainforests of northern Colombia and north-western Venezuela, where they forage for food in the upper layers of the canopy. Their diet mainly consists of fruit although they also eat buds, flowers, bark and occasionally small insects.

They are an arboreal species, rarely coming down to the ground and perfectly adapted for life in the treetops, with long limbs, a prehensile (gripping) tail that is used as a fifth limb and four fingers curved like hooks. These all help with moving from branch to branch.

It is believed that the species has declined by at least 80% over the last 45 years, mainly due to hunting and habitat loss. The conservation status of this species was upgraded from Endangered to Critically Endangered in 2003.

Paignton Zoo has a small troop of spider monkeys that you can see on your next visit to Paignton Zoo.

Species: Indochinese box turtle
Latin name: Cuora galbinifrons
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

Also known as the flowerback box turtle, this forest dwelling species is native to China and Vietnam. A medium-sized turtle, they can grow up to 20cm in length and weigh 800-1.200grams, taking 10-15 years to reach maturity.

Little is known about the habits of the species in the wild but in captivity they appear to be omnivorous, eating bamboo shoots, fruit and earthworms.

Having been heavily exploited for the pet and aquacultural trades, the Indochinese box turtle is also collected for consumption and has suffered an estimated population collapse of over 90% in the past 60 years.

You can visit our Indochinese box turtles in Reptile Tropics.

Species: Sumatran tiger
Latin name: Panthera tigris sumatrae
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered

The smallest of the tiger species, the Sumatran tiger is only distributed on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This subspecies lead a solitary life amongst the dense vegetation habitats in the centre of the forests.

Their distinctive stripes provide camouflage to assist with stalking and ambushing prey. As carnivores, their diet mainly consists of deer and wild pigs as well as other small prey including birds and reptiles.

It is estimated that only 400-500 remain in the wild and their numbers are in decline. The main threats to the Sumatran tiger are loss and fragmentation of their habitat due to the expansion of palm oil and acacia plantations. Despite being protected by Indonesian law, they are also hunted for the illegal trade of their body parts.

We have a family of 3 Sumatran tigers at Paignton zoo; Shakira, Fabi and Lucu.

You can help us to deliver our wildlife conservation programmes by adopting a tiger here; https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/support-us/adopt-an-animal/adopt-a-tiger

Quotes So much to see, beautifully laid out and loads of interesting information on all the animals. Quotes