When we use words like 'endangered' at the Isle of Wight Zoo we are referring to an animal's official conservation status. This ranks animals and plants by categories to tell us in how much danger of extinction a species is in. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
(IUCN) is the organisation that decides which conservation status to allocate each species. They maintain the IUCN Red List
, a database of thousands of species of animals and plants.
What are the categories?
The categories can apply to animals or plants. Scientists don't simply count them - they also look at factors such as the threats they are facing, how quickly they breed or whether their numbers have been changing.
Categorising every animals and plant on earth is a long process! This is why some have the category Not Classified
- they may or may not be in danger. All mammals and birds have been assessed, but many other species have not.
- This is the most endangered an animal or plant that exists in the wild can be. Critically Endangered species face 'an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild'. We have one type of Critically Endangered animal here at the zoo - the black-and-white ruffed lemurs
- These animals or plants face 'a very high risk of extinction in the wild'. We have several endangered animals here at the zoo, including the tigers
, the red-ruffed lemurs
and the Madagascan giant jumping rats
- These animals or plants face 'a high risk of extinction in the wild'. They are not endangered yet but they are likely to become so unless the threats they are facing decrease. Vulnerable animals we have at the zoo include the African lions
and the Madagascan tree boas
Lower Risk Categories
- These animals and plants are not currently considered to be threatened. However, they are either 'close to qualifying for or are likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.' Near Threatened animals at the zoo include jaguars
and ring-tailed lemurs
- These animals and plants have been evaluated and do not qualify for any of the higher risk categories. Animals at the zoo with a Least Concern status include the Bennett's wallabies
and the brown capuchin monkeys
- These animals have not yet been classified. They may or may not be threatened but have no official status. Our green iguana falls into this category.
- the IUCN do not have enough information about this species to be able to classify it.
All quotes are from the IUCN Red List Guidelines