Endangered Animals

TOCK loves the Earth and all the animals and plants that share the Earth with us. It is important that we all care and respect all the living things on the Earth. Sadly on his travels TOCK has learnt that some animals need extra special care. These are called endangered or threatened animals.


Endangered/threatened animals are so few in number that if we don’t care for them now they may become extinct (like the Dodo) and not be found on Earth anymore.

TOCK used his magnificent machine to go back in time to see the Dodo, an amazing flightless bird that lived on the island of Mauritius. Unfortunately too many people hunted the Dodo and now there are none left. Although TOCK enjoyed meeting the Dodo, he was unhappy because nobody else would ever see this wonderful creature.

Some of reasons animals can become endangered are:

  • Pollution – plastic in the oceans and rivers can harm the animals and make them sick. Too much air pollution can make the Earth too warm for some of these animals to live happily and find enough food.
  • Losing their homes/habitat – people are cutting down the forests or damaging the areas where these animals normally live.
  • Over hunting/ fishing – people are catching too many animals.

TOCK was filled with hope when he discovered lots of people are starting to help protect endangered animals. Here are some cool facts about some endangered animals and what YOU can do to help too:

Loggerhead Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtles get their name because of their large heads. They are a type of reptile like a crocodile and are cold blooded- (they become hotter and colder, depending on the the temperature outside). Loggerhead turtles can be found in mild to warm oceans all around the world except in oceans and seas that are cold.

  • They can grow to 3 feet in length.
  • Live more than 50 years.
  • Sea turtles are an ancient species, having been around since the time of the dinosaurs — about 110 million years.
  • A female loggerhead sea turtle may travel as much as 12,000 kms to the beach where she was born to have her own babies – she can lay 100 eggs at a time.
  • Baby sea turtles are called hatchlings and are only about 5 cm long when they are born.
  • As sea turtles are air breathing reptiles, they need to come to the surface of the water to breathe. Sea turtles can hold their breath for hours at a time. A resting or sleeping turtle can stay underwater for 4-7 hours.
  • Loggerhead seas like to eat fish, crabs, clams, squid and jellyfish. They can crush the shells on the crabs with their strong beak like jaws.
  • They drink sea water and get rid of the extra salt from their body as tears.

Loggerheads like many sea turtles are endangered because of:

  • Pollution and plastic in the ocean – they can sometimes try and eat a plastic bag thinking it is a jellyfish.
  • Loss of habitat – the beaches where they need to nest have perhaps been destroyed.
  • Getting caught in fishing nets or hooks.


  • Use less plastic. Sea turtles can eat plastic that ends up in the ocean. Use reusable bags, bottles perhaps made from cotton, stainless steel, glass and only use plastic containers that can be recycled.
  • Help collect litter – perhaps help at a clean up at your local beach.
  • Learn more about sea turtles – perhaps visit a local aquarium or learn more facts at school/preschool.
  • Fund raise – Organise or take part in a funding raising activity to donate money to a charity that cares for sea turtles.


The word Orangutans means Person of the Forest. Orangutans are not monkeys but are a type of great ape. There are 3 types of Orangutans – Sumatran, Bornean and Tapanuli. They spend almost all their time high up in the trees – sleeping, eating and swinging from tree to tree. Orangutans are only found in Indonesia and Malaysia in the rainforests on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

  • Their arms are longer than their legs – in fact their arms can even stretch down to their toes when they are standing. They use their strong arms to help them swing through the trees.
  • Orangutans live about 30 years.
  • They sometimes use their feet to eat.
  • The young orangutans live with their mums for anything up to 7 years.
  • Orangutans build a nest or sleeping platform in the trees to lie on every night.
  • The male orangutans have beards and moustaches.
  • They are the heaviest animal to live in the trees.
  • Orangutans are very clever. They sometimes use tools, such as sticks to get insects out of trees or break open nuts. Some people have even seen some orangutans making umbrellas out of large leaves.
  • These great apes normally eat during the day and like to eat fruit and leaves,but also eat nuts, bark, insects and honey. Their absolute favourite food is a huge spiky fruit called durian which smells very stinky!.

Orangutans are endangered mainly because of:

  • Logging -people are cutting down the forests where the orangutans live to get logs to make timber materials like paper and furniture.
  • Palm oil plantations – Trees are being cut down to make way for oil palm plantations. Palm trees produce palm oil – an edible vegetable oil – which is used in many products, from toothpaste to pizza, to bath products. Most of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Forest fires
  • Hunting


  • Buy sustainably – As a family when shopping for things made from wood and paper look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label on packaging. This means that the trees used are grown in sustainable forests.
  • Only buy sustainable palm oil products – Only buy food and other things like toothpaste that says on the label that it is made from sustainable palm oil. The great news is that people can produce palm oil sustainably – protecting species like the orangutan. Instead of cutting down forests they can plant palm trees – which produce the palm oil – on land that does not already have trees on it.
  • Don’t waste paper.
  • Learn more about these clever animals and tell your friends about them and what they can do to help them.
  • Fund raise – Perhaps take part or organise a fun fundraising activity and donate the money to an organisation that looks after orangutans.

Hector’s Dolphins

Hector’s dolphins are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins in the world. They are found only in the inshore waters of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Two types of Hector’s dolphins exist: the South Island Hector’s dolphin which is found around the South Island of New Zealand, and the Māui dolphin which is found off the west coast of the North Island. The Hector’s dolphin is named after Sir James Hector, a New Zealand scientist, who was the first person to study this very special dolphin.

  • They have distinct black facial markings, short stocky bodies and a dorsal fin shaped like a Mickey Mouse ear.
  • Hector dolphins live about 20 years.
  • Like other dolphins, Hector’s use echolocation to find their food. They send out high frequency ‘clicks’ that bounce off surrounding objects and fish and helps them work out what is around them.
  • Hector’s dolphins are very playful animals. They like leaping out of the water and landing on their side with a loud splash. They also like to play with seaweed.
  • Along with chimpanzees and elephants they are one of the most intelligent animals in the world.
  • They enjoy eating fish like red cod, ahuru, arrow squid, sprat, sole and crustaceans.
  • Dolphins only close one eye when they sleep so they can detect danger quickly.

Hector’s Dolphins are in danger because of:

  • Pollution – especially plastic pollution.
  • Getting tangled in big fishing nets called Gillnets – hopefully soon the New Zealand Government will stop people using these types of nets near dolphins.  People can still go fishing but use hook and line fishing and fish traps instead. 
  • Trawling in areas where these dolphins live.
  • Injured by boats.
  • Damage to the coastal area where they live.


  • Learn more about these clever animals and tell your friends about them and what they can do to help them.
  • Fund raise – Perhaps take part or organise a fun fundraising activity and donate the money to an organisation that looks after Hector’s Dolphins
  • Use less plastic.
  • Keep the beaches clean.
  • Take care around Dolphins -If you are in a boat near any Hector’s dolphins try not to frighten them.

Polar Bears

Polar bears like to live where it is nice and cold in the frozen areas near the North Pole in the Arctic, in Canada, Alaska (US), Greenland, Norway and Russia. They are the largest living carnivores (meat eaters) on Earth.

  • They can smell really really well in fact they can sniff out prey from up to 16km away.
  • Polar bears have black skin and although their fur looks white, it is actually transparent.
  • They are very good swimmers – they use their large paws, which are a little bit webbed like a duck, like paddles in the water. The bottom of a polar bear’s footpads are covered in small bumps, which help them to grip the ice and avoid slipping.
  • Polar bears have a thick 10 cm layer of blubber or fat which keeps them warm in the winter.
  • Polar bears use sea ice as a platform to hunt seals as they are often not quick enough to catch seals in open water. They wait near seal breathing holes or at the ice’s edge for a seal to surface, then snatch it from the sea.
  • Although adult bears grow very big when they are born the baby polar bears are only the size of a guinea pig, are blind and don’t have any teeth. The cubs grow very fast thanks to their mother’s milk.
  • The cubs are born in November and December. The female polar bears look after her cubs in snow dens where they stay for up to 4 or 5 months.
  • The cubs will stay with their mother for about two years, when she teaches them all the things they need to know to catch food and survive in the Arctic.

Polar Bears are endangered because of:

  • Pollution
  • Man Made Climate Change – using too many petrol cars and burning too much coal in factories can cause the Earth to get hotter. When the Earth gets hotter it makes the cold season – winter near the North Pole shorter so the sea ice melts faster and this means the polar bears have less time to hunt for food and so are not able to find enough food to grow and stay healthy.
  • Hunting


  • Use less petrol cars – catch the bus or if you don’t have far to travel – perhaps you can go on your bike, scooter or walk.
  • Save energy – turn lights off when you leave the room. Unplug devices and the TV when you don’t need them on.
  • Buy local – go to your local farmers market and grocery store.
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle (For lots of ideas see our Waste/Recycling page).
  • Use less plastic.
  • Learn more about these amazing bears and where they live.
  • Fund raise – Perhaps take part or organise a fun fundraising activity and donate the money to an organisation that looks after Polar Bears.

Some Other Endangered/Threatened Animals

  • Tiger
  • Blue Whale
  • Sumatran Rhino
  • Sumatran / Asian Elephant
  • Chimpanzee
  • Red Panda
  • Giant Panda
  • Snow Leopard
  • Sea Lion
  • Galapagos Penguin
  • Hazel Dormouse
  • Kākāpō …