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Today is Endangered Species Day so we thought we’d bring you some reading on the topic:

As a place to start, you might be interested in perusing this list of endangered species. And, as you do, you might be surprised to learn which animals are on it. They include several species of orangutan, elephants, dolphins and whales; the black rhino, sea lions, sea turtles, tigers, mountain gorillas and more. It’s not super uplifting to read, we know, but we scoured the Internet and found better news for you, too. So don’t let this deter you. It’s just where we begin. Read on for more.

If you’re interested in learning more about endangered species – what is causing species decline, how the U.S. government tries to protect them through the Endangered Species Act of 1973, how to recover species from the endangered list and what we all can do individually, check out this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page. They’ve got lots of useful info in podcast or transcript form that you can dig into.

And now we move onto some of that good news we promised. Recent legislation in Florida, which passed unanimously with bipartisan support in the state house and senate (we know, whaaaa???), will allocate $400 million to protect land and increase wildlife corridors across almost the entire length of the state. This action will be critical in helping to protect the endangered Florida panther. Experts say other wildlife, such as Key deer, the Florida manatee and loggerhead sea turtles, will benefit as well. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, the Florida panther is “the only known breeding population of puma in the eastern United States.” To find its way off the endangered list, there need to be at least three established populations and enough habitat to support them. At the moment there is only one established population. So there’s work to do. For the panthers it should be fun. 😉

From nearly across the world, this story is a classic one of human ingenuity finding a way to balance the needs of people and wildlife. In Java, an island in Indonesia, the Javan slow loris, a small primate that lives among the treetops, has become endangered in part because more and more of those trees have been felled for farming. That means the lorises, who usually move about from one treetop to the next and are built specifically to do so, often have to climb down and walk along fields to get to more trees when the space between them is too large. This makes them susceptible to prey, especially from dogs in nearby villages. So conservationists came up with the idea of building a network of pipes over land cleared for crops that connect the trees otherwise spaced too far. Using the pipes, the lorises can now move safely again from one tree to the next. But in a special twist, the pipes also carry water that the farmers can use for irrigation. And then everyone is happy. Symbiosis at its best.

And because three is sort of a magical number, we bring you one more smile-making story about an endangered animal. In Nepal, the numbers of endangered one-horned rhinoceros have grown by 16 percent since 2015. That year there were 645 animals and now there are 752. Both of which, importantly, represent huge growth since the 1960s when the rhinos totaled a mere 100. At the same time, in Africa, not a single rhino lost its horns or its life in 2020, an achievement not equaled since 1999.

To wrap it up, we’ll leave you with these stunning portraits of the most endangered wildlife in Africa.

Now turning our attention to…Bike to Work Day and all things bicycles!

Little did we know, but May is National Bike Month and today, the 21st, is National Bike to Work Day. Now, as it turns out, a good portion of the trips Americans take are less than 2 miles, making using your bike instead of your car often an entirely feasible pursuit. If you do, you won’t be alone. Between 2000 and 2013 there has been, on average, a 62 percent increase in bicycle commuting rates in all 50 states, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Of course that means there have been more modest jumps in some places and huge ones in others. Cities like Washington, D.C., Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans have seen the share of bike commuters grow anywhere from about 300 percent in some of those places to almost 500 percent in others since 1990.

For most of us, even if we don’t do it, bike commuting is not a new concept. But, in the pandemic, for many it actually was. When very suddenly subways, buses, carpools and other means of public transport felt unsafe, more and more people turned to their bikes for safety and efficiency. This lovely New Yorker cover, and the artist interview that accompanies it, is an hommage to that; to another one of this pandemic’s silver linings.

News flash! There’s going to be a women’s Tour de France starting in 2022! Current race director, Christian Prudhomme, confirmed as much in an interview with The Guardian newspaper earlier this month. While it’s a pretty exciting development, Prudhomme has been taking some flak for other comments he made in the piece, like how all women’s races lose money and his feeling that women don’t need as steep or grueling of a course as men. Some have been pushing back on those remarks, calling his mindset “outdated.” Over here we’re pretty confident the lady riders saddling up next year will more than prove him wrong. And we can’t wait to see it.

Ok, here’s the story: There’s this sort-of-loosely-organized gravel bike ride called the Iowa Wind and Rock. It’s a 340-mile self-supported monster through rural parts of the state, often in pitch darkness, with frigid temps, rain, mud that will choke your bike to a full stop, only a printed cue sheet for directions, many more than a few hills and 27,000 feet of elevation. For this year’s race, 120 people were registered. At the start 52 showed up. More than 24 hours later, 11 people finished. One of them was a woman. Her name is Kae Takeshita. And you can read about her feat right here.

When you think of biking, advocacy might not be the immediate word that comes to mind. But Eliot Jackson, a former World Cup Downhill racer and founder of the Grow Cycling Foundation, might well change that. Through his non-profit, he aims to help underrepresented populations get into the sport of cycling – through competition, business, media and more. The initiatives he’s already started, or has planned, include a jobs board for the cycling industry, grade school and middle school cycling clinics and building a 30,000 square foot, world class, pump track in Los Angeles. That last effort is an attempt to “bring a piece of the outdoors (mountain biking) to the heart of a city,” he said. “It can build community and foster connections. We can hold events and competitions. We can give kids a safe place to learn to ride while eliminating the risk of cars. It gives people a chance to fall in love with the bike and see the places it can take you, all without going outside your neighborhood.”

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