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The Cutest Animals You've Never Heard Of

A Journey into the Photo Ark

To be revealed if you continue reading. (AKA Manipulation)

I think we should start off by saying I'm a completely terrible person. Here I am praising the Photo Ark and my cover photo isn't even from the Photo Ark. I should be permanently cut-off from society in a large metal box with just enough food to survive but not near enough to be happy.

If you live in Los Angeles, you might know about the Annenberg Space for Photography. Those interested in stalking me, I do go around quite often.

This month they had the legendary Photo Ark, of which I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in front of a sea of strangers. I would call it embarrassing, but that's something I'm used to.

If you just want to see photos of cute animals I completely endorse just scrolling from this point on to see pretty pictures. Because clearly, you need my permission since I'm your friendly neighborhood narcissist.

But I'll give a quick summary of what the Photo Ark is for the curious humans. It's run by the new love of my life, and the seventh man to make me question my sexuality, Joel Sartore. 

The fact is that almost half our world's species are likely to go extinct before the turn of the century if we don't get our act together, so Joel made it his mission to document as many different species as possible to put into his Photo Ark. It's his way of giving the voiceless a voice, and for some animals, it could be the last evidence they have of even existing. "People only save what they love, and how can they love what they have not met."

The Malayan Tapir

ENDANGERED

Remember this cutie from like two seconds before you scrolled? Of course, you don't, because clearly, this is not the exact same Tapir. He has like...an extra stripe I think. 

They never made it past the 20th century, so they are still in black and white, and they have long noses which actually have a scientific name: proboscis. Guess what? They use it as a snorkel. I think that's the cutest thing ever. Just a little Tapir snorkeling through like...water. I don't know it's probably cute because I'm picturing goggles and animals with goggles are cute.

The most tragic thing? Malayan Tapirs are at a very high risk of extinction due to the destruction of the rainforests they live. There are only an estimated 15,000 left in the wild.

Phillippine Tarsier

VULNERABLE

These little guys are what I like to classify as creepy cute. It's like adorable, look he has so much personality, but also those are some giant eyes and they got owl heads that can turn all around their body.

But it does all make sense because they are nocturnal and primarily share nice family meals consisting of cockroaches and the occasional bat. Yes. These guys slaughter bats. See what I mean when I say creepy cute?

Another interesting thing is that they have multiple sets of breasts, but only one pair work. The others are just for their young to grapple and hang on to. They also can never have pyscho twin powers, because only one can be made at a time. Made. That's a weird way to say born.

Cue the somber Hanz Zimmer music. There are only between 5,000-10,000 left in the world, and the population is falling off at steadily increasing rates.

Silvery Marmoset

THREATENED

I tilted my head too.

The interesting thing about marmosets is that they have little rainforest monkey gangs. Yeah, they create their own little groups, pee around their territory, and fight anyone that enters it. I don't know if they actually pee, I'm just ignorant and assume if dogs do, marmosets do too.

Apparently, the ADW says that marmosets behave much like squirrels, and even their feet look a lot like squirrels. Except here's the thing, their big toes look different. Sounds like the ADW has a foot fetish.

Luckily, marmosets are highly adaptable, so they are in the 'least concern' category as far as endangered goes, but human encroachment and habitat destruction are leading to a slight decrease in marmoset population.

White-Bellied Pangolin

VULNERABLE

DON'T CALL HIM AN ARMADILLO HE KICKS ARMADILLO'S LITTLE—let me excuse myself, I just find him so precious.

This little guy is bada—I don't know if I'm allowed to curse but adult friends you know what I mean. Child friends, he could beat up your dad.

Apparently, this little guy has a keratin armor so strong only an extremely determined lion or tiger could potentially open it up when he curls into a ball. What even is vibranium? Well...okay...I guess technically not even determined tigers and lions could beat vibranium, but like maybe you shouldn't be such a know-it-all?

What sucks is that this leads to them being one of the world's most trafficked animal, killed for both their scales and meat. Their scales are used for the oddest things too. They're believed to guard evil spirits and summon rain, along with healing powers. And I'm like let the evil spirit murder you so this cute guy can live. That's what the Winchesters are for.

They're also like grandmas with no teeth and primarily eat ants. You know how your grandma's always eating ants. But the strange thing is that they have to also swallow sand and stones to grind up the ants in their intestinal tract.

All eight species of Pangolin are on the brink of extinction, due to the out of control human trade and rainforest destruction. There are no current population estimates, but almost 300 Pangolins are poached every single day. That's almost 100,000 every single year.

Coquerel's Sifaka

ENDANGERED

Don't they just look like the purest form of life, I feel like their father. I guess I should name him Luke. If that joke didn't bomb you are amused too easily. 

These dudes can jump thirty feet in the air with one jump. Thirty. That's like...five Chris Evans. The females also slap the crap out of the males if they try to eat before they're finished. Girl power. Love it. They even are the ones that decide who they get to mate with instead of the other way around, which I think is wonderful.

There are only about 200,000 left in the world. That sounds like a lot until you remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world, and also take into account that number is steadily declining. Once again. Destruction of rainforests.

Short-Nose Echidna

THREATENED

This guy looks like Sonic if his mom was an anteater, basically. But there is almost no relation at all to anteaters in the family tree. 

Strange enough his name was taken from a mythological half-snake half-woman monster. Clearly the name fits.

He would also be a fantastic member of the Ghostbusters, because he can sense electrical fields through his snout. If the Winchesters got one as a pet, Supernatural would immediately be a much more adorable show that I now want more than anything else.

I really really really really really really want to go into how Echidnas reproduce, but it's so vulgar and odd I can only assume it must be inappropriate. Let's say the guys have multiples of what most have singles of that he swaps when he feels necessary.

This only scratches the surface of what's out there, yet that's very quickly changing. If things continue as they have been, a few of the animals you've seen in this little...article thingy...won't be here much longer. 

So the question is...do you care?

All proceeds from this article will be donated to the National Geographic Photo Ark fighting for the global restoration and conservation of wildlife habitats. Want to see more? You can visit the Photo Ark online at https://www.joelsartore.com/photo-ark/ 

Want to be part of the change? You can donate at https://donate.nationalgeographic.org/photo-ark to contribute to the voiceless. 

It's also worth mentioning this article earns money based on the number of reads, so help build our donation bank by sharing to everyone that loves animals and cutting those that don't love animals completely out of your life forever.

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