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The March Sadness Cute Animal Faceoff: Koala Vs. Lemur

CREDIT: Shutterstock
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Welcome back to March Sadness, ClimateProgress’ educational bracket tournament of animals impacted by climate change and other environmental threats. For whichever animal wins, ClimateProgress will devote resources for a deep-dive feature article exploring the story behind what’s ailing your chosen critter. Read the rules here.

The voting on Day One has officially closed. Our number one seed, Polar Bear, overtook Wombat for the win. And, in a particularly tight race, the Sandshrew-like Pangolin beat out the Tasmanian Devil. The next time you see the winners, they’ll be facing off against each other — and we’ll let you know even more about the myriad threats they’re facing due to human activity.

Today, Day Two, we’ll be finishing up the face-offs in our Paws and Claws section. Koala will go head-to-head with Lemur, and our number two seed Panda will battle the Wolverine. After today, we’ll be back on Monday with four matches each day leading up to the Sweet Sixteen.

Koala vs. Lemur

One of the world’s favorite marsupials, the Koala, is facing a serious conundrum. In their native land of Australia, bushfires are becoming catastrophic, often historic events in a hotter, drier country. Because they’re slow-moving and are reliant on their eucalyptus trees, koalas face deadly consequences. Two months ago, in the beginning of Australia’s summer, fires roaring through southeastern Australia hit the local koala population hard. Animal welfare groups sent out a call for koala mittens to help ease the pain from burns suffered during the fires.

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Lemurs, on the other hand, are slowly running out of places to live. Native to Madagascar, the animals face constant dangers from deforestation. What’s more, scientists have shown that climate change seriously threatens to cut the animals’ habitat in half. Three species, in fact, could see their forests completely eliminated by 2080 due to climate change.

Vote below, on our Facebook page, or with the hashtag #CPMarchSadness on Twitter.

Panda vs. Wolverine

CREDIT: shutterstock
CREDIT: shutterstock

It had to be: Pandas are just too emblematic not to be endangered. While the wild population of pandas has grown by some 300 over the last decade to around 1,900, they still only occupy a small fraction of their former range throughout southern and eastern China. Scientists have recently predicted that the already limited range of panda habitat could be further reduced by half in the next 50 years due to climate change. This fracturing and degradation of habitat as well as the loss of bamboo to changing climatic conditions, the panda’s staple food, will further stress this already endangered population.

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The Wolverine — the large, hardy, and solitary member of the weasel family found in the mountains of the West — faced near-extinction early last century after hunting and trapping. Now, the animal is facing threats due to a loss of snow which it needs to breed. Snow melt in the Rockies is occurring about two weeks earlier now than it did in the 1960s, and over the next 75 years, climate change is projected to wipe out 63 percent of the snowy habitat wolverines they need to survive, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Which one do you want to learn more about? Vote below!

***TOURNAMENT UPDATES:Day 1–3/19: Paws and Claws pt. 1 — Polar Bear vs. Wombat; Tasmanian Devil vs. Pangolin; (voting closed) WINNERS: Polar Bear and Pangolin.Day 2–3/20: Paws and Claws pt. 2 — Lemur vs. Koala; Panda vs. Wolverine (voting closed) WINNERS: Koala and Wolverine.Day 3–3/23: Fins and Flippers — Sea Lion vs. Sea Horse; Penguin vs. Manatee; Walrus vs. Sea Otter; Whale vs. Salmon (voting closed) WINNERS: Sea Horse, Sea Otter, Whale, and PenguinDay 4–3/24: Horns and Hooves — Elephant vs. Horned Lizard; Rhino vs. Narwhal; Saola vs. Moose; Mountain Goat vs. Reindeer (voting closed) WINNERS: Elephant, Narwhal, Moose, and Mountain Goat.Day 5–3/25: Shells and Wings — Sea Turtle vs. Pelican; Sage Grouse vs. Peregrine Falcon; Oyster vs. Butterfly; Lobster vs. Red Knot (voting closed)Day 6–3/26: Polar Bear vs. Pangolin; Koala vs. Wolverine (voting NOW OPEN)Day 7–3/27: Sea Horse vs. Whale; Sea Otter vs. PenguinDay 8–3/30: Elephant vs. Mountain Goat; Moose vs. NarwhalDay 9–3/31: Sea Turtle vs. Red Knot; Butterfly vs. Peregrine FalconDay 10–4/1: TBDDay 11–4/2: TBDDay 12–4/3: THE FINAL FOUR: TBD Day 13–4/6: THE CHAMPIONSHIP: TBD