National Wildlife Week is a time to celebrate the diverse and wonderful wild animals that North America has to offer. This week is meant to promote the preservation of wild spaces and the conservation of our endangered animals, so that generations to come will be able to enjoy these amazing creatures.
Some of the best places to explore the natural beauty of the United States are its many National Parks. Yellowstone was the first area to be protected as a National Park, designated by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Now, there are 60 areas designated as protected spaces by the National Park Service. From the Everglades in Florida to the Channel Islands in California, there are wonderful spaces that showcase nature's beauty from coast to coast. You can learn even more about these amazing parks in our post celebrating National Parks Week.
Here in Safari Ltd's home state of Florida, one of our most recognizable animals is the manatee. These rotund aquatic creatures are found along the coast of the United States including the Gulf of Mexico. They are so associated with Florida that the type found in North America is known as the "Florida manatee" (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. These docile creatures are often seen floating near the surface of the ocean, and are unfortunately frequently injured by boat propellers. Though federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, they have recently been downgraded from "endangered" to "threatened" by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. You can learn more about these sea-dwelling mammals in our post celebrating Manatee Appreciation Day.
The bobcat is another Florida animal, though it doesn't share the association with the state that the manatee does. This is probably because bobcats are also found throughout much of the United States. These medium sized cats may look like friendly kitties, but they're wild animals and should be treated as such. In the northernmost parts of their range, these animals are often easily confused with their relative, the Canadian lynx. Thankfully, we've got a handy dandy post that explains just how to tell the two apart - Lynx or Bobcat: Which Cat is That?
The groundhog is an animal with deep roots in American tradition, with its own day devoted to whether or not it will see its shadow to predict six more weeks of winter. These burrowing mammals aren't hogs at all, but are in fact members of the squirrel family. These ground squirrels inhabit much of the northen United States and Canada, and are also known as woodchucks, though that name has nothing to do with wood. It likely comes from the word "wuchak", which was the name the Native American Algonquian people used for the animal. Learn more about these furry critters and the tradition they inspired in our Groundhog Day Groundblog.
Heading even further north, you'll find one of the most iconic creatures associated with the Alaskan wilderness: the polar bear! The largest of the living bear species, these white-furred giants can weigh over 1,500 lbs. As these bears hunt heavily on sea ice, it's believed that they are being negatively affected by climate changes, which causes the ice to melt earlier in the year. Though polar bears are semi-aquatic and can swim for hundreds of miles, the effort takes a toll on them, and the longer they have to swim to find food, the weaker they become. Learn more about these creatures in our Polar Bear Day post.
While the United States is full of diverse and fascinating wildlife, there is a real danger from invasive species which threaten native animals, plants and fungus. When these introduced species enter an ecosystem, they have a habit of driving out the existing species and taking over. This does a great deal of harm to local indigenous species and sometimes can drive them to the brink of extinction. To learn more about the damages invasive species can cause, take a look at our post from National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
We hope this round-up has encouraged you to explore the world of North American wildlife during National Wildlife Week, and don't forget to check out our North American Wildlife collection to see even more awesome animals!