What is the rarest animal ever? The answer is… unknown, despite the organizations that keep meticulous track of which species are endangered. It turns out these lists are not based solely on numerical data, so they cannot tell us which animal is the rarest. They can only tell us which animals have the highest risk of going extinct.
There is hesitation to declare one animal the rarest based on population numbers because there is no way of knowing those numbers are 100% correct. There is no census that animals take, after all.
However, here is a list of the top contenders for being the rarest animal ever.
1. Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle: There are only three of these turtles left, based on a count done in July 2016. This turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in the world, and native exclusively to China.
2. The Hainan Gibbon: Another Chinese native, this ape tallied up to 25 known animals based on a count from January 2017. There are claims this is the rarest mammal on Earth, which it does appear to be.
3. Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth: The Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth has 79 known sloths hanging about. They are exclusive to Escudo de Veraguas, a small island near Panama. The size of the island automatically limits the population, and poachers only worsen the problem. The island is not inhabited by humans, but the poachers seem to show up anyways.
4. Mississippi’s Dusky Gopher Frog: This frog is native to the ponds alongside the Mississippi River, a habitat that is slowly declining. Building property alongside the Mississippi is not a new trend, but it’s one that has brought this frog’s population down to around 100.