This Holiday Season, Celebrate with the “12 Days of Photo Ark”

To celebrate the holidays, the National Geographic Society is launching the “12 Days of Photo Ark!” Each day we’ll showcase animals from the National Geographic Photo Ark, a multiyear effort to raise awareness of and find solutions to some of the most pressing issues affecting wildlife and their habitats. Led by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore, the project aims to document every species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, inspire action through education, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts.

Check back daily until Dec. 25 to learn fun facts about the various species and the importance of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. Follow along on @InsideNatGeo and @NatGeoPhotoArkto see the latest photos.

We’ve met groups of animals from sifakas to snails, but today the 12 Days of Photo Ark comes to a close. On this twelfth and final day, meet these 12 monarch butterflies photographed in the wild. Monarchs migrate across the center of North America down to Mexico to spend the winter, and in the spring they head north again, all the way to Canada. It can take up to four generations of butterflies to complete the journey.

This holiday season, help keep monarchs safe on their long journey. Learn more: #SaveTogether

On the eleventh day of Photo Ark, we’re joined by 11 Australian finches from the Plzen Zoo. Gouldian finches, like the bird closest to the camera here, are very social and love interacting with other finches.

This holiday season, help the Gouldian finch stay social! Learn more: #SaveTogether

On the tenth day of Photo Ark, meet 10 American flamingos, who live in large groups consisting of as many as 10,000 individuals. The color in their brilliant plumage is caused by the carotenoids in the food they eat! These birds were photographed at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

This holiday season, help us keep these flamingos together with their enormous group. Learn more: (Photo taken at @LincolnChildrensZoo)

On the ninth day of Photo Ark, check out these nine fire-bellied newts photographed at the St. Louis Zoo. Fun fact: Fire-bellied newts are found within the lower reach of the Yangtze River in China and nearby areas and secrete a toxin that can be very harmful if ingested.

This holiday season, help us keep the fire in these newts’ bellies! Learn more: #SaveTogether (Photo taken at @STLzoo)

On the eighth day of Photo Ark, meet eight blackside dace, an endangered species of fish found in streams and creeks in the United States. They are extremely intolerant of pollution from coal mining and their populations are diminishing in areas where mining occurs. These fish were photographed at Conservation Fisheries.

This holiday season, help us keep these blackside dace swimming away from extinction. Learn more: #SaveTogether (Photo taken at @conservation.fisheries)

The seventh day of Photo Ark brings us seven Iowa Pleistocene snails. These endangered snails, photographed in the wild, measure less than a quarter of an inch in diameter and are often found within the leaf litter of algific talus slopes – rare, delicate ecosystems found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. Amazingly, these snails must live in the cold, even in Iowa’s summertime, so they stay in drafts of cold air pushing out of cracks in rocks of the Pleistocene-age hills of northeastern Iowa. Ice inside the hills left over from the Ice Age generates cold air year-round.

This holiday season, help us keep these snails circled together. Learn more: #SaveTogether

On the sixth day of Photo Ark, meet this family of six opossums at the Denver Zoo. As marsupials, mother opossums keep her babies, called joeys, in her pouch to feed for two to four months before they’re weaned.

This holiday season, help us keep these opossum joeys snuggled together on their mother’s back. Learn more: (Photo taken at @DenverZoo).

On the fifth day of Photo Ark, meet five chinstrap penguins from the Newport Aquarium. Chinstrap penguins are very social animals who are known to congregate together by the thousands on small Antarctic islands.

This holiday season, help us keep these chinstrap penguins with their friends. Learn more: #SaveTogether (Photo taken at @newport_aquarium)

On the fourth day of Photo Ark, meet four coyote pups! Coyote pups are born in dens, unable to move or open their eyes, and are largely dependent on their mother for food and protection. They are very well taken care of though, as father coyotes play an equal role in feeding, grooming and guarding the pups. These pups were photographed at Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.

This holiday season, help us keep these coyote siblings safe and together. Learn more: (Photo taken at @NEWildlifeRehab)

On the third day of Photo Ark, meet three koalas cuddling: Newborn koalas climb into their mother’s back-facing pouch and won’t leave it for six full months. Even after they venture onto their mother’s backs and into the outside world, for some time these little joeys will continue to return to the pouch to hide or sleep. These koalas were photographed at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.

This holiday season, help us keep this koala family cuddled together. Learn more: #SaveTogether (Photo taken at @AustraliaZoo)

On the second day of Photo Ark, meet a pair of six-banded armadillos, Dilla and Marty, at the National Mississippi River Museum. These creatures are found in parts of South America and have a strong armour that is actually made of bone.

This holiday season, help us keep Dilla and Marty snuggled together. Learn more: #SaveTogether

On the first day of Photo Ark, meet the diademed sifaka, photographed at Lemuria Land in Madagascar. By pushing off from vertical tree trunks with their muscular legs, diademed sifakas are capable of bounding from tree to tree, propelling themselves at up to 18 miles per hour!

This holiday season, help us keep the diademed sifaka in his tree. Learn more: #SaveTogether


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