Striking photos of 15 animal species you might not know exist.

1. The emperor tamarin

Two words: HOLY MUSTACHE.


Image by Kevin Barrett/Flickr.

Need more 'stache in your life? Emperor tamarins can be found in the Amazon rainforest throughout parts of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. The mustachioed primates live in troops (usually consisting of two to eight members) that are led by the eldest female.

It's been said that in captivity, emperor tamarins are highly needy and love to petted by their human caretakers. I'm not sure about you, but I feel like I could be awesome at that job.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

2. The spirit bear

You already know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but did you know you shouldn't judge a bear by its color, either?

This isn't a polar bear happily lost in the woods, folks. It's the ever-elusive Kermode bear, otherwise known as the spirit bear.

It's a unique (and rare) subspecies of American black bear that lives in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada.

Image by Maximilian Helm/Flickr.

Only 1 in 10 Kermode bears have cream-colored coats. Beyond just looking cool, the coats act as a kind of camouflage in rivers, allowing the blonde bears to catch more salmon than their darker-furred counterparts.

3. The quokka

For years, Disney has claimed that its over-commercialized theme parks (rife with sweat, screaming children, and mouse hats) are the "happiest place on earth." Nice try, Disney.

The happiest place on earth is actually anywhere within a five-foot radius of a quokka.

A post shared by @instaquokka on

Seriously. Could these mini-marsupials be any more smiley? They primarily live on Rottnest Island, Australia (which was named after "rat nest" from the guy who initially discovered the island and thought the quokkas were big rats). But if you go to visit them, be chill and don't feed them. They're already a vulnerable species, and messing with their diets is not a way to help.

A post shared by @instaquokka on

You might remember that the quokka briefly found Internet fame when this quokka selfie went viral a few months ago. Yet there are still millions of people outside of Australia that have no idea these cheery little furballs exist.

Pixar, I'm looking at you to fix this. Give us our quokka movie.

4. The bat-eared fox

If the quokka is the happiest, most jovial-looking animal on the planet, the bat-eared fox appears to be, uh ... on the opposite end of the spectrum. Just look at this sinister grin:

A photo posted by Charlotté Rita Higton (@charlieanimates) on

Despite their perpetually sneering expressions, they're not the evil assholes of the animal kingdom. Bat-eared foxes are a highly social species. Also, male bat-eared foxes are basically stay-at-home dads, taking on at least half of the pup-rearing duties, including grooming, chaperoning, and defending. #LeanInTogether

A photo posted by Sean Crane (@seancranephoto) on

Fact time! Their big ears not only help them hear potential prey, but they also help them stay cool in the grassy plains of Africa.

5. The sand cat

Ready to meet the only cat species that lives in sandy deserts?

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

Meet the adorable sand cat. This small but fierce feline lives in the deserts of North Africa and Asia and can weigh up to seven pounds. Its large ears help it detect prey underground before quickly digging it up with its tiny paws.

Speaking of paws, its footpads are completely covered with thick, wiry hair to help protect against extreme temperature.

Image by kellinahandbasket/Flickr.

6. The sloth bear

It's time to introduce a fluffier animal to this list. And there's no better animal to do the honors than the sloth bear.

Image via Thinkstock.

These big, messy balls of bear-fluff primarily live in the forests of South Asia and are considered a vulnerable species because of habitat loss and, in some cases, human capture.

Image by Jane Perez/Flickr.

Despite the name, they're not related to sloths, nor are they slow-moving. They don't even hibernate like most other bears.

7. The Bengal slow loris

If the sloth bear wasn't fluffy enough for you ... challenge accepted.

This is a baby Bengal slow loris:

A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

Slow lorises are also a vulnerable species, so plucking them out of the wild to become your pet is not recommended.

Image by Helena Snyder/Wikimedia Commons

Out in the wild, you'll find the same sweet face across tropical and subtropical areas of South Asia.

8. The rock hyrax

Now this little furball is full of surprises.

Image via Thinkstock.

Looks like a rodent, right? But it's not.

The rock hyrax is actually most closely related to the elephant and the manatee. If you think that's crazy talk, you can read even more about it here on Psychology Today.

Image via Thinkstock.

More fun facts? They've got a huge range of vocalizations, they have sweaty feet that work like suction cups on rocks, and they enjoy group sunbathing sessions. If that sounds right up your alley and you'd like to meet these delightful little elephant cousins, they can be found in parts of East Africa and the Middle East.

9. The cotton-top tamarin

If the animal kingdom ever decided to form an '80s rock band, the cotton-top tamarin and its long, white head of hair would totally be the lead singer.

Image by Airwolfhound/Flickr.

Striking, right?

Unfortunately, the cotton-top tamarin is considered critically endangered by the IUCN. An estimated 80% of their population has been destroyed in the past two decades due to $!#%ing deforestation.

Image by russellstreet/Flickr.

To learn more about how you can support conservation efforts, check out the Wildlife Conservation Network.

10. The Patagonian mara

Ever wonder what the offspring of a horse and a rabbit would look like? Yeah, I never really considered it either ... until I saw the Patagonian mara.

A photo posted by uni_san (@uni_san) on

So weird? So cool. So weird and cool!

Image by orestART/Flickr.

OK, the Patagonian mara is not actually the product of some torrid horse-rabbit love affair, but it is a member of the rodent family, even though it has hoof-like front claws.

Interesting fact: They're one of the few mammals that are strictly monogamous.

11. The jerboa

Now try to imagine what the love-child of a mouse and rabbit would look like. Does it share any resemblance to the jerboa?

These cute little rodents live in North Africa and Asia, and they come in all sorts of varieties — there are 33 different species, according to National Geographic. And? Six of these species are PYGMIES.

Image by Bell Pletsch/Wikimedia Commons.

As you might guess by their long feet, these tiny creatures don't walk — they hop (or leap, if it's to escape a predator).

12. The dhole

Let's keep playing the animal mashup game: What would happen if a German Shepherd and a fox decided to procreate? Maybe something that looks exactly like the dhole.

A photo posted by Ashwin Gokhale (@ashwin_gokhale) on

The dhole is an endangered dog species native to Eastern and Southern Asia. Like many other animals on this list, habitation loss is primarily to blame, but disease transfer from domestic and feral dogs might be playing a role, as well.

Image by Neil McIntosh/Flickr.

13. The golden snub-nosed monkey

Ever seen a blue-faced monkey with orange fur?

A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on

If so, you've met the distinctive golden snub-nosed monkey, resident of central China. And sorry, but it's on a totally different level than you. No, seriously: It spends over 97% of its time in trees.

Image by Su Neko.

One of my favorite facts about this strange beauty is that many of its vocalizations are made without facial movement, just like a ventriloquist.

14. Pallas's Cat

ALL HAIL THE KING OF FLUFF: PALLAS'S CAT.

Image via Thinkstock.

It really does have the longest and densest fur of any cat species in the world, which plays a key role in keeping it well-insulated during the winter months in central Asia. Unfortunately, it's this same fluffy coat that has made Pallas's cats a target for poachers, which in turn has contributed to population decline.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr.

Because of its expressive face, this funny feline often pops up in image lists and memes around the Internet. Keep 'em coming, Internet. I love it.

15. The sun bear

I've obviously left the best for last, friends. I'd like to introduce you to ... [drum roll] the sun bear. The sun bear lives in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia and is the smallest of all living bear species (about half the size of your good ol' American black bear). They're also a total delight.

Beautiful markings? Check. It's said that the name comes from the gold crescent-shaped patch of fur on its chest.

A photo posted by Abe Snider (@abesniderphoto) on

Comically long tongue? Check. It helps them extract and eat their favorite foods: termites and honey. It also lends itself to some spectacular "blargh" memes, as you might imagine.

A photo posted by R Mylie (@digitalneverages) on
A photo posted by @arawlings16 on

You're drunk, sun bear. Get out of that tree and go home.

Ability to make hilarious facial expressions? A million times, check.

A photo posted by @hammsuke on

There's still a lot that's unknown about this animal relative to other bear species, but we do know some things!

We know they've got a lot of loose skin around their necks, which acts as a form of protection. We know they're able to make clucking noises like a hen. And, of course, we know they're awkwardly adorable.

A photo posted by HoneyandYogurt (@honeyandyogurt) on

Sadly, we also know they're a vulnerable species, as defined by the IUCN — yet another consequence of deforestation. But! If you're interested, you can directly support sun bears through the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (which also has 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, in case you like to travel).

Did you know there are several success stories of humans saving endangered animals from extinction?

In the late 1960s, only 400 American bald eagles could be found soaring around our skies — the American symbol on the brink of extinction. However, thanks to the collective efforts of U.S. citizens and the government, the species has rebounded over the past several decades, with almost 10,000 breeding pairs identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006. Today? It's considered "least concern" by the IUCN.

Other species we've saved? The gray wolf. The Florida panther. The grizzly bear. The brown pelican. The black-footed ferret. The list goes on!

Here's the thing, though: Laws only change, conservation programs only get funded, and destructive human behaviors only stop when enough people care.

And people can't care if they're unaware that species like the golden snub-nosed monkey or Pallas's cat or the sun bear are in danger of extinction — let alone that these animals even exist. #RealTalk

Awareness matters. Awareness begets action. Which is why I'll keep making animal lists like this one if it means people will share with their friends and families. Together, we can increase awareness (even if it's only 15 funny-faced animals at a time).

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."