(ENDANGERED SPECIES) MADAGASCAR — In 2006, Madagascan pochards were thought to be extinct until 22 were discovered nesting along a lake in Northern Madagascar. Since then, conservationists have taken these rare ducks to a breeding facility in hopes of increasing the population, restoring their environment, and releasing the ducks back into the wild. The newest batch of ducklings were the first to be born in the breeding center and are restoring hope that the breed can saved. Read on for more information on this adorable endangered species. — Global Animal 
Discovery News, Sarah Simpson
Eighteen Madagascan pochards—the rarest duck on the planet—are exuding cuteness in a captive breeding center in Antsohihy, Madagascar. These adorable ducklings represent nearly a third of the entire population of their critically endangered species, signaling new hope that these birds can be saved from extinction.
Madagascan pochards were thought to be extinct until explorers rediscovered 22 of them nesting at a small, forested lake in northern Madagascar in 2006. By July 2009 only six females remained. That’s when conservationists, in cooperation with the Malagasy government, opted to launch an emergency captive breeding program.

In an urgent twist on the Easter egg hunt, conservationists carefully removed 24 eggs from their nests and hatched them in incubators along the lakeshore and hotel bathrooms until the breeding facility could be built.

The new ducklings are the offspring of the now-two-year-old birds hatched from those extracted eggs. The plan is to train this new brood for life in the wild and to release them sometime in the future—if and when their caretakers can find a suitable habitat.

The lake where the lone population of wild birds still lives was once part of a system of wetlands throughout the Island’s central plateau, including many shallow lakes and extensive marshes. But a long history of lake drainage and the introduction of exotic fish has reduced the suitability of these wetlands for many birds, explains Glyn Young of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, one of several organizations that facilitates the captive breeding program.