Protect, kill or eat? – Love, terror, mirth, disgust -- animals can evoke our strongest emotions; and our perception of creatures is shaped, in part, by culture, researchers say.
From pet pen to plate – It's why you might reel at the thought of eating a guinea pig -- a popular delicacy in Ecuador -- but jump at the chance to chow down on a lamb chop.
Survival of the cutest – And scientists aren't immune from this attraction -- researchers have found that large, dangerous or cuddly animals get more attention when it comes to conservation funds and academic papers than other species that are just as important, ecologically.
Ugly but useful – They may not be as glamorous as pandas, tigers, or orangutans, but nearly one-third of amphibian species are on the verge on extinction. This Hula Painted Frog (Discoglossus nigriventer), which is found in Lake Huma, Israel, is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and was thought to be extinct until 2011.
Holy cow – Beef may be popular in the United States -- Americans consume a whopping 11.5 million tons of the meat each year -- but in India, where cows are seen as holy among Hindus, slaughtering this creature is so controversial it has sparked riots. In December 2013, an angry mob burned 74 trucks and buses along the Delhi-Jaipur Highway after hearing rumors that a broken-down truck was loaded with cow meat.
Image makeover – But our perceptions can change. Sharks, once seen as man-eaters, are more likely to attract the attention of conservationists who argue that humans pose a greater risk to these creatures than they do to us. People kill almost 100 million sharks each year, according to a 2013 study in the Marine Policy journal. In comparison, 118 shark attacks occurred in the whole world in 2012 -- 80 of which were unprovoked.