Millions of years ago, alligators lived side by side with dinosaurs. Unlike dinos, alligators still roam Earth. But one species—the American alligator—was nearly wiped out.
By the 1960s, humans had killed enough of these giant reptiles to put the species in danger. Alligator skin is used to make leather products, including shoes and bags. In 1973, the animals became one of the first species to be protected by the ESA.
Since 1987, they haven’t been considered endangered. But American alligators remain protected under the ESA. Why? A close relative, the American crocodile, is in danger of dying out. The two species look very similar. Experts worry that hunters could confuse crocs with alligators.