Where Are the Farm Animals Going?

Caption: The Royal Palm turkey, once common on New England farms, is now critically endangered because it lacks the commercial potential of larger, meatier birds.

Deanna knew dinosaurs were extinct. She heard her parents talking about polar bears losing their habitat so there were fewer and fewer of them each year. She knew these animals might be extinct one day, too. When Deanna read in her science book that scientists were concerned about farm animals, though, she was really surprised.

It turns out that in the last one hundred years, one thousand breeds of farm animals, sometimes called domestic animals, have been lost forever on Earth. Hundreds more could become extinct in the future.

What classifies an animal as a domestic animal? Deanna thought about groups of farm animals. Then she knew these animals included cows, pigs, rabbits, goats, and so on.

When scientists say the world is losing domestic animals at an alarming rate, they are referring to individual breeds of certain animals. For example, not all cattle are expected to disappear from Earth by next year. However, certain breeds of cattle are in the very dangerous position of being gone forever. These include the Renitelo cattle of Madagascar, the H'Mong cattle of Vietnam, and the Yakut cattle of Siberia.

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