Smithsonian launches endangered tiger song project on Earth Day

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Four hundred people will receive limited edition copies of a song aimed to raise awareness about an endangered subspecies of tigers and will be tasked with "breeding" the song on social media to prevent it from dying out. The unique effort is part of the Endangered Song Project.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo partnered with indie rock band Portugal. The Man for "an analog-meets-digital awareness campaign that calls upon 400 participants to use their social media strength to spread the message that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild," say Smithsonian officials.

The previously unreleased song "Sumatran Tiger" was put onto 400 custom polycarbonate records that will degrade after a certain number of plays, say officials. There are only 400 copies in existence, meaning that the 400 people who receive them --music artists, bloggers, wildlife conservationists and other social media influencers -- will need to digitize and share the song on social media with the hashtag #EndangeredSong.

The campaign's website,, also features a real-time update of all the social conversations regarding the project, more about the initiative and how people can help get the song out.

"Announcing this initiative on Earth Day is a powerful way to share our ongoing commitment to securing a future for not only wild tigers but other endangered species," said Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park and Conservation Biology Institute, in a written statement on Tuesday. "As scientists explore new and innovative ways to conserve wildlife, so must we partner in new and unexpected ways to build awareness and inspire action. Simply put, our job is to save species and ensure a sustainable future for the world we share with all animals."

"Growing up in Alaska, we were surrounded by wildlife and the beauty of the natural world. We learned that we can't take these things for granted," said John Gourley of Portugal. The Man. "Thus the message of this project was very personal to us as a band, and we jumped at the chance to use our music to spread the urgent message of a species in danger of extinction."

Sumatran tigers are found in forests in Sumatra. With less than 400 left in the wild, Sumatran tigers are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Officials say their two major threats are habitat loss and poaching.

VIDEO: Endangered song project --


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