7. Red leaf monkey – Borneo
Also known as maroon langurs for their auburn coat, these monkeys are native to Borneo, where they spend most of their time in trees munching on the lush jungle foliage, seeds, and flowers, Thomas says. Their stomachs are actually similar to a cow’s in that they are chambered, allowing them to digest all that fiber they eat. But unlike the stereotypical monkeys of children’s books, these guys can’t eat bananas or other jungle fruit, as the sugars would ᴡʀᴇᴀᴋ ʜᴀᴠᴏᴄ on the delicate balance of their complex stomachs.
8. African penguin – South Africa
Talk about rare! The African penguin calls South Africa its home and is the only breeding penguin species on the whole continent. “Breeding takes place in southwest Namibia and western and southern South Africa and occurs at 28 colonies: 24 on islands and four on the mainland,” Ashe says, adding that less than two percent of the population exists in the wild today. Unlike the penguins in Antarctica fending off frigid temps, the African penguin battles heat on the toasty African coastlines. It’s not uncommon to see the penguins sticking out their white chests to minimize the heat absorption when they’re stuck on the shore incubating eggs or tending to newborn chicks.
9. Guam rail bird – Guam
The Guam rail bird is extremely good at walking and even running through thick vegetation without making much noise, which is a good thing since it’s not the best flier. That wasn’t a problem, originally, for these seven-ounce birds because there were no natural predators on the island to bother them, says Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. But then, brown snakes were introduced to the island after World War II and the birds didn’t have a way to protect themselves. “Biologists rounded up the remaining 21 birds and began a breeding program in partnerships with zoos,” says Ashe. “Today the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Guam Department of Agriculture are working to bring rail back to its native home.” For now, the Guam rail population is living on the islands of Rota and Cocos.
10. Galápagos giant tortoise – Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
These ginormous creatures also make their home on the Galápagos Islands, and since they can grow up to 59 inches and weigh 550 pounds, they’re likely not going anywhere else. “The giant tortoise has thick, sturdy legs to carry its weight, but will spend a lot of time lying down to conserve energy,” Diez says. “While their shells may look heavy, they are actually made up of honeycomb structures that enclose small air chambers, making it easier for the tortoise to carry the shell without difficulty.” Perhaps taking things on the slow side and storing up energy is what helps give them a long life—up to 100 years.
11. Sumatran tiger – Sumatra Island, Indonesia
The smallest of the tiger subspecies, the Sumatran tiger is only found in the remaining patches of forest on the island of Sumatra. “They are listed as critically enᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀed and an estimated 200 to 400 individuals remain in the wild,” states Ashe. The ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛɪᴏɴ of their habitat by agriculture encroachment and ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜing is the greatest threat. For now, outreach and awareness programs like the Wildlife Response Unit are helping protect the tigers by reducing tiger-human ᴄᴏɴꜰʟɪᴄᴛs, helping keep livestock safe with tiger-proof pens and with veterinary assistance when the tigers are caught in sɴᴀʀᴇs.
12. Wild boar – Sumatra, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula; various smaller islands like in Sulu archipelago such as Tawi-Tawi.
With all that facial hair, it’s easy to see why these swine are nicknamed “Bornean bearded pigs.” But apparently, they didn’t get much hair anywhere else save for their tasseled tails. “These boars are thought to be the descendants of the pigs of Chinese visitors in the early centuries. The visitors would come to harvest birds’ nests for birds’ nest soup. While they were here, their pigs either roamed or escaped,” Thomas shares. “Over time, they have come to be a unique subspecies and live wild today.” They live in groups and have a pack order much like that of dogs. They aren’t ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪve but they are pretty strong for their size.