Has being endangered become cliche?

Photo credit: Michael Daniel Ho

As I was browsing for Valentine’s Day cards, I came across a cute card with two pandas snuggling on the front. I picked it up to get a closer look and on the front next to one of the pandas there was a thought bubble that said, “I understand you’ve got a headache, Sweety. But we’re about to go extinct. JUST SAYIN.”

Then on the inside it said, “Happy Valentine’s Day to the only one in the world for me.” The card was made by Sunrise Greetings and I thought it was clever and disturbing at the same time. It isn’t necessarily my type of humor because I think all the sex/headache jokes are tiresome, but I’m sure some people out there had a good chuckle and bought the card. But what does this card say about being an endangered species?

On one hand, you could say it raises awareness about the plight of pandas and reminds people that they’re endangered and that’s always a good thing. On other hand, you could say it makes light of the dire state of being an endangered species as in “Oh, too bad there’s no sex happening for these endangered pandas, bummer for them since they are just one romp away from extinction.” Both of these scenarios are probably over-analyzing the meaning of a Valentine’s Day card, but for some reason I was disturbed.

Maybe it just made me feel that labeling a species as endangered has become cliche. At one point, being an endangered species really meant something, but now the term is thrown around so much about so many different species that it has lost some of its impact. Yet, being an endangered species is serious business, so for the term to lose any of its original effect is sad.

I think it’s time to come up with a new term for endangered species that better conveys the seriousness of the situation. So far the best alternative I’ve thought of is…screwed. This gets across the gravity of the situation and has a useful double meaning. If this animal doesn’t screw, it’s screwed. Not all animals screw to reproduce, but still you get the idea.

Now this is a brainstorm, not the final choice necessarily. Does anyone else have any suggestions on a new term for endangered?


  1. Bent Mathiesen says

    I have had the same thoughts for years each time I see the word endangered. It is not provocative to me, but sad and true.

    And as long as main parts of human only show greed and think they are better and more value than other animals we are on the fast tract to ending life on earth.

    I see no hope anywhere.

    Best regards

    • Carolyn Kraft says

      Hi Bent, Thanks for the comment! Yes, I agree, it’s hard to have hope sometimes, but I try to keep looking at some of the good things happening in conservation such as the new marine protected areas along California’s coast. Don’t give up!

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