Animals today face a host of threats—to their habitats, their health, their very survival. And unfortunately, most of the problems they face are the direct result of decisions made by humankind. But even though facts such as the ones listed below can be alarming, they are also opportunities for change—and reminders that it’s not too late for us to fix things. Here are 10 such statistics, along with tips for what we can do to make things right:
7.6 million animals enter shelters each year. And every year, about 2.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized. (Source: ASPCA)
How you can help: Get involved in your local community—support the shelters, become a foster, and try to attend the yearly American Pets Alive!: Make America No Kill conference in Austin, Texas, which supports animal lovers in helping them create life-saving action plans for their city.
More than 9 billion farm animals are mistreated and exploited for food in the U.S. every year. (Source: Farm Sanctuary)
How you can help: You can start by making kind and compassionate choices at the supermarket—but you should also share your commitment with family, friends and social media. It may be hard to believe, but not everyone knows or understands how inhumane factory farming truly is. And if your local market carries factory farmed products, speak to the manager and encourage her to quit stocking such products.
100% of male orcas in captivity suffer dorsal fin collapse; in the wild, this figure falls below 1%. (Source: WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation)
How you can help: Do not visit marine mammal theme parks worldwide, and encourage your friends to do the same. But that’s just a start. For a long list of additional tips, visit The Orca Project. (And take some small comfort in SeaWorld’s recent changes to its orcas policy.)
95% of corals in the northernmost portion of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have suffered “severe” bleaching. Of the 520 reefs observed in March, just four were deemed healthy. (Source: National Coral Bleaching Taskforce)
How you can help: Make smart environmental choices tied to reducing climate change: recycle, use energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances, offset carbon emissions when flying, and so on. If visiting a reef, always be responsible and respectful—do not touch! More tips can be found here, from The Nature Conservancy.
Worldwide polar bear population numbers are expected to drop by 30 percent by 2050, as a result of sea ice loss from climate change. (Source: WWF)
How you can help: The main thing we can do, according to Polar Bear International, is reduce greenhouse gas emissions by working together. Because it’s important to educate the next generation, they also offer these helpful ideas for action projects and fundraising so kids can get involved in their schools.
Humans have eradicated 90% of the ocean’s top predators in less than 60 years. (Source: Oceana by Ted Danson)
How you can help: If you choose to eat fish, only eat fish from responsible sources. If you’re ready to eliminate fish from your diet altogether (if enough people do this, it will lower the demand for fish from fisheries), choose other protein sources instead, such as nuts, beans, yogurt, cheese, eggs and sunflower seeds.
35,000-50,000: The number of African Elephants poached each year (Source: OneGreenPlanet)
How you can help: Support organizations such as SOS Elephants, which is “dedicated to the preservation of elephants and their habitats,” and iworry, a campaign that “exists to protect elephants by raising awareness of the threats facing the survival of the species.” And mark your calendar: Join the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in a city near you this September 24 (or organize your own march).
Species populations globally have dropped an average of 52% in 40 years—including amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. (Source: London Zoological Society)
How you can help: As this article from Huffington Post points out, we can help to stop “the sixth mass extinction” by making environmentally smart choices, such as eating less meat, voting for leaders with a strong environmental commitment, using sustainable products and more.
More than 100 million: The number of mice and rats killed in U.S. animal testing laboratories each year (Source: PETA)
How you can help: Do not buy products tested on animals. PETA and Leaping Bunny offer searchable databases so you can make informed buying decisions. You can also support anti-testing organizations, such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, and sign an online petition, like this one here.
92 percent of marine animal injuries or deaths linked directly to ocean pollution result from human-made plastic debris. (Source: Marine Pollution Bulletin)
How you can help: The NRDC offers these 10 things we can all do to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans. Included in the list are: no longer buying bottled water, supporting a ban on plastic bags, recycling and more.
Have you made any lifestyle changes to help the world’s animals and the planet at large?