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What is the World’s Favourite Species?

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What’s the World’s Favourite Species?

It’s ARKive’s 10th birthday and to mark the occasion, you’ve been joining us in your thousands from 162 different countries to help us find the world’s top ten favourite species. The results are in! The species that were most frequently voted as favourites by you can now be revealed...

The array of life with which we share our planet provides an endless source of wonder, so for many of you the decision was tough. But which species was voted the World’s Favourite? Here are a few clues:

  • The most frequently selected reason for voting this species as your favourite was “because it’s under threat and we need to protect it”.
  • It is active at night...
  • It has feathers... but it can’t fly!

What is the No.1 World’s Favourite Species?

Find out now »

No.1 Kakapo


The magnificent kakapo stole 9% of the total votes. It’s a beautiful bird that cannot fly and is only found in New Zealand. But from the many thousands of creatures with which we share our precious planet, what made the kakapo stand out from the crowd? For most of you, tragically, it was the kakapo’s Critically Endangered status. We hope the title of World’s Favourite Species will bring it the attention it deserves.

Kakapo facts

  • The kakapo is the world's only flightless parrot.
  • Unusual for a bird, the kakapo is only active at night.
  • As well as being the world's largest parrot, the kakapo is also the heaviest.

Find out more about the kakapo »

Related teaching resources:

Human Impacts on the Environment »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and has fascinating behaviour:
The lemur leaf frog »

Kakapo conservation organisations:

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No.2 Tiger


The striking tiger is the world’s second most popular species. An iconic symbol of conservation the beautiful tiger, though an unsurprising choice, is worthy of the number 2 position. Your reason for voting team tiger was that it is both impressive and powerful.

Tiger facts

  • The tiger is the only cat with stripes.
  • No two tigers have the same stripe pattern.
  • Unlike most other cat species, the tiger is a keen swimmer and often cools off in streams and lakes to escape the midday heat.

Find out more about the tiger »

Related topic:

Endangered Species »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and is impressive and powerful:
The wild yak »

Tiger conservation organisations:

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No.3 African elephant

African elephant

The African elephant takes the bronze with 5% of the total votes. The African elephant is perhaps one of the most emotive animals. But your reason for voting for it was that it is highly intelligent.

African elephant facts

  • The African elephant skull makes up 25% of its bodyweight.
  • African elephants continue to grow throughout their lives.
  • African elephants use sounds well below the range of human hearing to communicate over long distances.

Find out more about the African elephant »

Related topic:

Climate change »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also highly intelligent and under threat:
The African grey parrot »

African elephant conservation organisations:

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No.4 Grey wolf

Grey wolf

The fourth most popular species is the grey wolf. An iconic animal and a source of both fear and respect, the grey wolf has inspired many cultures. Historically the grey wolf held the title of the world’s most widely distributed land mammal. Whilst its distribution is now more restricted, we hope the title of fourth favourite species in the world will give it a boost in the public agenda.

Grey wolf facts

  • The grey wolf is the largest member of the dog family.
  • The coat of a grey wolf may be grey, red, brown, black or white.
  • The grey wolf is intelligent and can work in a group to catch prey up to ten times its size.

Find out more about the grey wolf »

Related eco-region:

Wisconsin's Northwoods »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and beautiful:
The Iberian lynx »

Grey wolf conservation organisations:

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No.5 Polar bear

Polar bear

The polar bear comes in at fifth position, and we’re not surprised that this amazing species made the top 10. With its distinctive thick fur, jet black nose, and huge forepaws, there is no doubt that the polar bear is a striking creature. But sadly climate change, which is causing drastic reductions in the extent of ice cover across the polar bear’s Arctic home, is putting this species at risk.

Polar bear facts

  • The polar bear is the largest living land carnivore.
  • Polar bears can walk easily on ice as the soles of their feet act like suction cups and their claws are like ice-picks.

Find out more about the polar bear »

Related teaching resource:

Animals Over Winter »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and magnificent:
The Fiji crested iguana »

Polar bear conservation organisations:

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No.6 Red panda

Red panda

What’s the sixth most popular species in the world? The giant panda? No it’s the red panda (aka firefox)! The scientific name of this cute critter may mean ‘fire-coloured cat’, but it’s actually got more in common with bears and racoons. Although this species is protected in the majority of its native countries, it is still Vulnerable because of habitat loss and the fur trade. By making the top 10, we hope to shine a spotlight on this species to help protect it. (And we’d like to thank @firefox for championing the red panda during our World’s Favourite Species Campaign!)

Red panda facts

  • Red pandas have a wide range of vocalisations, the most peculiar of which is a 'quack-snort'.
  • Like the giant panda, the red panda has a modified wrist bone that acts as a sixth digit or thumb.

Find out more about the red panda »

Related topic:

Endangered species »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also cute and under threat:
Dian’s tarsier »

Red panda conservation organisations:

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No.7 Cheetah


The cheetah, known for being the fastest land mammal in the world, sprinted in to position 7. With its deep chest, small waist and distinctive markings, it was no surprise that you voted for the cheetah because of its beauty. However, their low genetic variation could pose a threat to this Vulnerable species.

Cheetah facts

  • The cheetah can reach speeds of up to 87 kilometres per hour.
  • The name cheetah is derived from the Hindi word, Chita, meaning ‘spotted’.
  • Cheetahs hunt during the day to avoid competition with larger predators.

Find out more about the cheetah »

Related teaching resource:

Adaptations for Movement »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and magnificent:
The shortfin mako »

Cheetah conservation organisations:

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No.8 Snow leopard

Snow leopard

The snow leopard came in at number 8, confirming the world’s love for beautiful and threatened big cats. The snow leopard is well adapted to its cold habitat, with its thick fur and large paws. An endangered species, the snow leopard is sadly heavily hunted. Many of you consider it a mysterious creature, so we hope our fact-file helps to enlighten you.

Snow leopard facts

  • The snow leopard’s long, thick tail is used for balance.
  • The snow leopard is a long-jumper, jumping distances of up to 50ft.

Find out more about the snow leopard »

Related teaching resource:

What is an Endangered Species? »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and beautiful:
Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo »

Snow leopard conservation organisations:

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No.9 Bornean orangutan

Bornean orangutan

The Bornean orangutan is a cheeky chappy who’s well deserving of a top 10 position. A species we can all relate to, orangutan means ‘person of the forest’. Voters of the Bornean orangutan are keen to protect this endangered species, whose range is now restricted solely to the island of Borneo.

Bornean orangutan facts

  • Bornean orangutans sleep in nests high in the trees.
  • Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals in the world.
  • Orangutans are the slowest breeding of all mammals.

Find out more about the Bornean orangutan »

Related teaching resource:

Endangered species »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and considered intelligent:
The kea »

Bornean orangutan conservation organisations:

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No.10 Amur leopard

Amur leopard

One of the most Critically Endangered big cats in the world, we witnessed a plea from our followers to raise the profile of the Amur leopard. We hope that by being voted your tenth favourite species, the Amur leopard will become more widely known. The Amur leopard survives in only one isolated population in the Russian North-East.

Amur leopard facts

  • Only 35 Amur leopards remain in the wild.
  • The Amur leopard’s thick coat can grow as long as 7cm in winter.

Find out more about the Amur leopard »

Related teaching resource:

Endangered species bingo »

Related species:

Find out about a lesser known species that is also under threat and beautiful:
Wallace’s golden birdwing butterfly »

Amur leopard conservation organisations:

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