1. Blue-footed booby – Ecuador
“There are about 20,000 breeding pairs of blue-footed boobies, the most common type of booby in the Galápagos,” says Fernando Diez, marketing manager at Quasar Expeditions. You can’t miss their pretty blue feet, which come from the carotenoid pigments in the fish they eat. And what about the rest of the name, “booby”? According to Diez, it comes from the Spanish word “bobo,” meaning foolish, because the bird’s waddle is a bit clumsy on land. But when it comes to flying and swimming, well, they can dive from 80 feet above the ocean when hunting prey.
2. Proboscis monkey – Borneo
These unique monkeys are endemic to and are enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed due to rampant ᴅᴇꜰᴏʀᴇsᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ. While most of us may think monkeys hang out in trees, the proboscis monkey loves the riverside too and is quite the swimmer. “We saw two jump into a very wide river and swim across, and not a minute after they landed, a large 15-foot crocodile went out searching for more, hoping there were some stragglers! It was ᴄʀᴀᴢʏ to think they’d take such a ʀɪsᴋ, but they enjoy splashing around even just for fun,” says jme (pronounced like Jamie) Thomas, Executive Director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue and animal conservationist.
3. Pygmy elephant- Borneo
These are undoubtedly the cutest elephants you’ll ever see, and they’re only in Borneo. “It is believed they evolved from a sultan releasing captive elephants into the jungle in the 18th century, but regardless, they are considered a subspecies that is evolutionarily different from other Asian elephants,” says Thomas. “They are also enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed and have a limited range of habitat in Borneo of around 186 square miles or so.”
4. Galápagos marine iguana – Ecuador
Meet the one and only marine lizard in the world! You can tell this one apart from land iguanas by its flattened, rather square nose, an adaptation for feeding on marine algae, and by the laterally flattened tail, an adaptation for swimming that helps it spend up to an hour underwater at a time, says Diez. It’s also notable for being large and dark with variable coloration. You’ll usually find marine iguanas along the rocky shores or in a tree or cactus soaking up the sun.
5. San Francisco garter snake – CA, USA
Even those who aren’t reptile fans can’t deny that the stunning reddish-orange and blue stripes are beautiful. San Fransisco garter snakes make their home in San Mateo County and the northern edge of Santa Cruz County. Unfortunately, their habitats have been hit hard for a long time by agricultural, residential, commercial, and recreational development—and they’re also popular with ɪʟʟᴇɢᴀʟ collectors, two factors that landed the snake on the enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed species list in 1967. They like to hang out around vegetated ponds with open hilly areas to take in the sun, eat, or hide in rodent burrows, and pose no ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛ to humans. They can grow to be 51 inches long and their favorite food is the red-legged frog, also on the enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed species list.
6. Sifaka lemur – Madagascar
The white and brown (and sometimes golden) sifaka lemur resides in Madagascar and is quite happy to be there. They are known as the dancing lemurs because, when they’re not in trees, they are hopping on two legs with their arms in the air. “It is impossible not to laugh while watching this! It is really ridiculous,” says Thomas. She’s observed that the sifaka are shyer than ring-tailed lemurs, so she was pleasantly surprised when one approached her. “They typically tend to stay at least ten to 15 feet away, but I stretched out my arm and one gently took my hand and started to lick it!”