When I was about 12 years old, my granny bought me a subscription to National Geographic magazine. I remember the first one I received in the mail was the July 2002 edition. Inside the magazine’s distinguishable yellow border was the issue’s cover photo of a bald eagle. The feature story, Majesty in Motion, was about the national animal of the United States of America and how the species was on the brink of extirpation in the contiguous United States. National efforts contributed to the recovery of the bald eagle, and in June 2007, nearly five years after the magazine’s publication, the bald eagle was finally removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in the Lower 48 States.

President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973, and according to the Resources for the Future official website, the ESA has proven to be more than 99 percent successful at preventing extinction. Over the years, scientists have estimated that at least 227 species would have likely gone extinct had it not have been for the law’s passing.

Four years into my National Geographic subscription, in July 2006, I finally received an issue highlighting my favorite animal –the giant panda. The article was a glimpse of hope for the species because in 2006, there were a total of 40 panda reserves in China, which was 27 more than there had been eight years prior. This meant that the initial report submitted by scientists that year could have been underestimated by at least 1,000 pandas. I remember being ecstatic over that article because that was at least an additional 1,000 pandas unaccounted for living somewhere in the wild. I was sad for my favorite animal, but there was hope.

That hope paid off. As of recent, the giant panda is no longer an endangered species. Just last week, Bradley sent me an article from CNN’s website about the latest buzz in the animal kingdom. The article said that an increase in available habitat caused the giant panda population to rise 17 percent. Similar to the ESA, the Chinese government initiated the recovery of the giant panda in 1970, and since then it has been the focus of one of the most intensive, high-profile campaigns to recover an endangered species. The CNN article took me back to my National Geographic days, and it reminded me of how sad I was to read the news about my favorite animal. Ten years later, I read that the giant panda has been downgraded from endangered to vulnerable. I’m so glad Bradley sent me that article. It made my day and restored my hope in knowing that even if chances are slim, there is still hope.

Kayla Beaty is art director for the Times-Journal. She can be reached at kbeaty@times-journal.com.

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