Wildlife around the world is under siege. Thousands of species of wildlife from frogs to tigers are being pushed to the brink. We are, in fact, living in what scientists have come to describe as the “sixth extinction,” – the sixth time in the history of our planet that species have disappeared at such a rapid pace. On May 20, experts will come together at the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Third Annual Animal Law Symposium in Los Angeles.

The causes of the five previous mass extinction events have been traced to dramatic changes in climate, like ice ages, or sudden catastrophic events, like the asteroid strike that doomed the dinosaurs. But the sixth extinction is unique because it is being driven by one species: homo sapiens. Human beings’ singular ability to shape and reshape our world and to learn how to control the natural world to suit our needs, has been a boon to our kind but the biggest threat to all others.

But if we are the driving cause of the sixth extinction, we can also drive the solutions. How do we stem the sweeping tide of habitat loss and extinction that threatens wildlife across the planet? At the symposium, wildlife and legal experts will explore how people are learning to co-exist with our wild neighbors; the plight of wildlife, including endangered wildlife, in captivity; and how animal agriculture may be the single biggest cause of habitat loss and the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change – the ultimate threat to species survival.

We have an obligation as the most powerful species on earth to recognize and address our impacts on our fellow earthlings. At this symposium, the audience, including legal professionals, law students, and animal advocates, will gather the tools they need to fight for legal and policy changes aimed at stopping the sixth extinction. And even how our personal choices can make a big difference.

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