Weird Nature
311 voters

The Most Charismatic Megafauna

Updated April 17, 2019 1.7k votes 311 voters 7.1k views27 items

Megafauna. Charismatic megafauna. What are they even? They are elephants and pandas and lots of other popular animals that people just love. These large animals are the poster children of environmental movements, put on posters and turned into adorable stuffed animals to gain public support for conservation and other environmental goals.

So, if you are wondering why you see giant pandas everywhere, it's because conservation groups were like, "Hmm, how can we get people all over the world to care about an ecosystem in China that is facing some peril?" The answer was cute pandas.

What are some popular charismatic megafauna? Well, think of just about any wild animal you are familiar with and have seen in the gift shop at your local zoo. Elephants, lions, sea turtles - the California condor even. They are all well-known species that were chosen to be the faces of various conservation campaigns and other endeavors.

Some of the animals on this list are endangered megafauna, while others are more ubiquitous, and some were maybe once on the brink of extinction, but thanks to their charisma, were saved! What a tale! Which charismatic megafauna species do you think look the most friendly? Are any of the animals on this list ones that you would love to chat with at a bar? Upvote the most charismatic of the megafauna creatures below, and go get yourself a stuffed red panda to cuddle until the end of time.
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  • Lion
    Photo: Shannon Tompkins / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Ethiopian lion redirects here. The lion (Panthera leo) is a species in the family Felidae; it is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears, and a hairy tuft at the end of its tail. The lion is sexually dimorphic; males are larger than females with a typical weight range of 150 to 250 kg (330 to 550 lb) for males and 120 to 182 kg (265 to 400 lb) for females. Male lions have a prominent mane, which is the most recognisable feature of the species. Lions are social, forming groups called prides. A lion pride consists of a few adult males, related females and cubs. Groups of female lions typically hunt together, preying mostly on large ungulates.... more on Wikipedia
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    Polar Bear

    Polar Bear
    Photo: Mark Dumont / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a hypercarnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses. It is a large bear, approximately the same size as the omnivorous Kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi). A boar (adult male) weighs around 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb), while a sow (adult female) is about half that size. Polar bears are the largest land carnivores currently in existence, rivaled only by the Kodiak bear. Although it is the sister species of the brown bear, it has evolved to occupy a narrower ecological niche, with many body characteristics adapted for cold temperatures, for moving... more on Wikipedia
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  • Orca
    Photo: Matthew_Allen / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    The killer whale or orca (Orcinus orca) is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and other species of dolphin. They have been known to attack baleen whale calves, and even adult whales. Killer whales are apex predators, as no animal preys on them. A cosmopolitan species, they can be found in each of the world's oceans in a variety of marine environments, from Arctic and Antarctic regions to tropical seas, absent only from the Baltic and Black seas,... more on Wikipedia
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    Lolita The Lonely Orca Has Been Living In The Country’s Smallest Whale Tank For Over 45 YearsFascinating Facts Most Folks Don't Know About Killer Whales: The Sea's Most Brilliant Hunters#2 of 13 The Dumbest Things We Believe About Animals Thanks To Pop Culture

  • Penguin
    Photo: Christopher.Michel / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of aquatic flightless birds. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos penguin, found north of the equator. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life which they catch while swimming underwater. They spend roughly half of their lives on land and the other half in the sea. Although almost all penguin species are native to the Southern Hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact,... more on Wikipedia
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