More than half of the world's 19 penguin species are in danger of extinction, with three of these living in South America. Determined to protect penguins from global warming and other threats, in 2006 the Center petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list 12 of the world's penguin species under the Endangered Species Act­ — including South America's Humboldt penguin, which lives along the coasts of Chile and Peru, and the southern rockhopper and macaroni penguins, found at the southern tip of the continent.


The Center has been working to secure Endangered Species Act protection for 33 imperiled South American bird species — some of the rarest and most beautiful in the world — found in Columbia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and the Galapagos Islands. Although ornithologists petitioned to protect these vanishing species in 1980 and 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has delayed protecting them for more than two decades. Thankfully, a 2006 Center lawsuit has compelled the Service to propose an endangered listing for South America's Galapagos petrel. But while awaiting protection, nearly extinct bird species such as the rare blue-throated macaw in Bolivia are suffering harm from trapping for the pet trade. Endangered Species Act protections could further restrict buying, selling, and importation of these birds, help ensure that U.S. government activities and funding for projects abroad do not jeopardize the species or their vanishing habitats, and increase conservation funding and attention. Learn more about our International Birds Initiative.


The Center is working to protect three beautiful yet endangered Brazilian swallowtail butterfly species. In 1994, a Center member submitted a petition to list these butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to respond. After 10 years of federal inaction, the Center filed a lawsuit to compel the Service to protect these unique and graceful insects. Learn more about our International Swallowtails Initiative.