The border wall wouldn't just cost money. It could cost us these rare animals too.

In November 2011, a camera trap recorded one of the most spectacular immigrants ever.

Deep in the Santa Rita mountains of Arizona, a single male jaguar padded in front of the camera. It was incredible: no wild jaguars had been seen in the United States since 1986.

Adult male jaguars can weigh up to 200 pounds, and the cat quickly earned an equally weighty nickname: "El Jefe," Spanish for "the boss." The boss wouldn't be alone for long. Over the next few years, a handful of other jaguars also appeared, including one as recently as November 2016.


Where did all these big cats come from? Mexico.

People aren't the only migrants crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.

It's natural for animals like El Jefe to roam vast spaces in search of food, water, and potential mates, though roads, towns, and nearly 700 miles of border fencing have made the journey difficult in recent years.

Construction of President Trump's border wall could make that even harder, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. In fact, over 100 different endangered species would be affected. So with a fast-track that'd ignore environmental impact requirements and wall prototypes already going up, let's not leave these animals faceless. In fact, let's meet a few of the denizens who might be affected.

The most impressive animal migrant is no doubt the jaguar.

All illustrations by Kaley McKean.

El Jefe definitely deserves his "boss" title. Jaguars are the third largest cat in the world and are so on top of the food chain that they regularly prey on alligators. Human hunters wiped out the U.S. population back in the 1960s, but recent sightings might mean they're poised for a comeback.

On the smaller end of things, the ocelot is especially striking too.

Found in Arizona and Texas, this diminutive wild cat doesn't roar; it chuckles, yowls, and mutters. Once hunted for its fur, the ocelet has been a protected species since 1989. Still, there may be fewer than 100 left in the United States.

The most obscure? Perhaps it's the jaguarundi.

The jaguarundi is a bizarre looking cat. It looks like a cross between a mini-mountain lion and an otter. Like the ocelot, they sometimes wander into the United States, but are even more rare.

Tired of weird cats? Meet the Mexican gray wolf.

The rarest and smallest subspecies of gray wolf in North America, the Mexican gray wolf was saved from extinction in the 1970s. The last five surviving wolves were captured and put into a breeding program. 113 of those survivors' descendants now roam Arizona and New Mexico.

On the coast, you might run into sea turtles and manatees.

The Mexican-American border juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, so construction would need to cut through the habitat of green sea turtles, West Indian manatees, and other aquatic species.

Then there's the ultra-speedy Sonoran pronghorn, which can outrun Olympians.

If you want to catch a pronghorn, you better come prepared — they can run up to 40 miles per hour. The reason? They may have evolved that ferocious speed to run away from ancient, equally-speedy cheetah-like predators.

The Sonoran pronghorn is a distinct, smaller subspecies of the more widespread American pronghorn. Its once massive population has been reduced to a mere 160 individuals in the United States.

Check out the ferruginous pygmy owl.

The reddish-brown owls (ferruginous means "rusty") don't fly very high, so a wall could cut them off from larger populations to the south, which has scientists worried about whether they could survive.

Even high-flying birds, like the red-crowned parrot, might be affected.

The border contains important nesting sites or migration paths for birds like the red-crowned and thick-billed parrots, the California condor, and even the bald eagle.

Not to mention countless smaller critters like the arroyo toad.

They might not be the most photogenic, but these little creatures matter too. Along with the California red-legged frog and the black-spotted newt, countless other animals travel freely across or live along the U.S.-Mexico border.

We need to build things. It's part of what makes humanity unique. But every project comes with its costs.

Normally, a massive project like the border wall would be preceded by a number of environmental impact studies, to protect as many creatures like El Jefe as possible. But that Homeland Security fast-track means that builders are free to skip those studies entirely — a potential "ecological disaster," as Vox reported last spring.

When we ask whether a border wall is worth spending over $20 billion on, we should also pause for a moment and also ask ourselves who else, or what else, is paying that price?

And, maybe most important: How does the boss feel about all this?

True

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less