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It's been another rough year for the animal kingdom—all that rarefied air at the top of the food chain must be leaving us brain-addled—but a few small victories for our furred, feathered, finned, hooved, and scaled cohorts make us wonder if there's hope for us all yet. Below, just some of the wins we've seen in the past year:
1. Earth Day present for Coachella Valley habitat
The federal government has approved a $6 million grant that will finance the purchase of hundreds of acres of new land for the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, an incredible victory for the more than two dozen endangered and protected species who live in the critical habitat in Southern California. 2. Obama reverses Bush change to Endangered Species Act
Our 44th president put the kibosh on a Bush administration proposal to eliminate the input of independent government scientists on federal projects that could potentially damage threatened or endangered species.
3. California votes for animal rights
In November, Golden Staters voted overwhelmingly for Proposition 2, also known as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which moved to prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that would restrict their movements vis-à-vis veal crates, battery cages, and sow-gestation crates.
4. Florida votes to crack down on freshwater turtle trade
Florida wildlife officials tentatively approved a new rule that will ban most freshwater turtle harvests to protect the populations of roughly 19 species.
5. Bush administration protect America’s only endangered dragonfly
Hooray for the really little guys—in this case, the Hines emerald dragonfly, the only dragonfly species on the federal endangered species list, which finally received protection in the last days of the Bush administration.
6. American pika gets assessed for Endangered Species Act protection
In February, the adorable, rabbit-like pika became the first mammal outside of Alaska to be considered for protection because of threats resulting from global warming.
7. U.S. District Court judge rules in favor of more habitat protections for jaguars
Just this month, U.S. District Judge John Roll ruled that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision not to designate critical habitat for the jaguar and develop a recovery plan for the endangered animal was based on incorrect criteria.
8. WWF-Backed wildlife protection bill for endangered cat and dog species clears U.S. House
In May 2008, the House of Representatives ferried legislation to protect endangered animals such as leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs, a move that will help create new programs and dedicated funding to restore and protect populations of rare wild cat and dog species.
9. New populations of orangutans found
Conservationists have found a new population of orangutans in a mountainous corner of Indonesia, a discovery that raises the total number of the endangered orangutan population by possibly thousands.
10. Duke Lemur Center faces baby boom
The stork came through for the Duke Lemur Center this year—and how! Home to different species of endangered lemurs, the center had a veritable baby boom. Where should we send the flowers?
More on endangered species
10 Animals That Will Be Extinct Within Your Lifetime (Slideshow)
Cutest Endangered Animals (Slideshow)