Just because you spent your entire 2012 looking up cute critters on the Internet, don't assume it means that they're all going to be with us forever. There's a reason we don't have Tumblrs full of passenger pigeons and Caribbean monk seals and Great Auks to entertain us. That reason? The cute animals tend to be the defenseless animals.
Here are three Internet-adored animals whose cuteness is killing them.
#3. The Fennec Fox
If BuzzFeed thinks an animal's the CUTEST THING EVER, it must be true. And it's hard to argue with those sweet faces and perma-perky ears. Fennec foxes are the cute animal equivalent of a lady doing hot-yet-respectable Starfox cosplay.
Leonard Lee for MTV
You'd better stare at this picture until you see the resemblance.
The bad news is that fennec foxes live in constant danger of poachers who kill and skin them for their soft, rare fur. Then there are the "luckier" fennec foxes that end up in the clutches of illegal pet traders, sold to the highest bidder and then presumably petted to death by that highest bidder. Think an evil version of Diddy's character in Get Him to the Greek.
Unfortunately, since people are the primary danger to fennec foxes, the species' ability to survive its own crippling cuteness is entirely up to humans.
Leonard Lee for MTV
Humans like this not-gratuitous example of a female.
#2. The Slow Loris
In December, scientists discovered some additional slow loris species, but sadly, they're already endangered. And every slow loris species lives in danger of illegal poachers who support the illicit pet trade. These people cut the teeth out of a loris' mouth (click for emotions-crushing photo) for the owner's safety and then sell it in its native Southeast Asia or smuggle it into a foreign country to be cooped up with somebody in their house instead of reproducing in the wild.
"Stop it! I'm nocturnal! Playing dress-up with you during the day is pretty much my nightmare ... I MEAN DAYMARE."
That pet-worthy cuteness is why every slow loris species is endangered. Since you don't look like the own-an-illegal-pet type to us, you'd best make a secret, embarrassing file of slow loris images now while you still can.
#1. The Sand Cat
Goodness Gracious Baby Animals via AFP
The sand cat is one of the world's smallest cat species and a skilled nocturnal hunter who knows how to avoid any potential larger predator. It's also a desert dweller in Arabia and the Sahara, which means there isn't much human encroachment on its habitat. And the established tradition where the sand cat was the Prophet Muhammad's companion means no one's developed a taste for eating them.
Want to guess why they're going extinct anyway?
"Oh please don't tell my kitten face any heartbreaking news."
If you guessed "douchebag humans who hunt Earth's cutest animals down for no good reason," you guessed right. The concept of such people is only less despicable when imagined with a GIF from Disney's Tarzan.
Every other wild cat species is bigger, scarier, and more impressive of a target, but for some reason, people still hunt the sand cat relentlessly.
What's more logical yet still mind-fuckingly evil is those illegal pet traders going after sand cats. They basically look just like house cats, which have been in a Cola War-style popularity contest with dogs for centuries. Just own a normal cat, jerks. Why must you own the endangered version?
That adorable little nose makes a compelling case, but still.
Oh, and the similarities between sand cats and house cats are only fur-deep, because sand cats are shy, feral, nocturnal, and instinctive deadly hunters of small things. That doesn't scream "docile pet that sticks around."
If somebody doesn't do something for the sand cat and all of the other animals on this list, soon we'll be reduced to looking at the same cute pictures of human beings over and over again instead of animal pics, and that's ... a poor substitute?
Leonard Lee for MTV
You're looking at this again to prove a point. Remember that.