Road to the Final Fur Begins

This year, to celebrate National Wildlife Week, NWF will be traveling the road to the Final Fur. We’ve got 32 native North American species facing off for glory in the wildest bracket you’ve ever seen. So get your voting fingers ready and mark down the following dates in your calendar:

Round 1, 32 competitors: February 27th – March 6th
Round 2, 16 competitors: March 7th – March 10th
Round 3, 8 competitors: March 11th – March 12th
Round 4, 4 competitors: March 13th – March 14th
Championship Round: March 15th – March 16th
Winner Announced: March 17th

It’s time to get going on Round 1! These 32 North American native species aren’t just fierce competitors, they’re also available for adoption! Symbolic adoption, that is. Symbolic adoptions support the National Wildlife Federation’s work conserving and protecting North American wildlife, while helping you learn more about your favorite animal (and as you’ll see below, some of them come with very cute stuffed animal replicas). Read on for the Round 1 match-ups and click through the photos to symbolically adopt one of our Final Fur competitors!

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Beasts of the Northeast

Humpback-Whale-plushie_334x150   vs   Great-Horned-Owl-plushie_150x219

HUMPBACK WHALE  vs  GREAT HORNED OWL

The humpback whale packs a mighty punch, but don’t count the great horned owl out just yet. The soft feathers on these birds give them the ability to sneak up silently on their prey, giving the owl a much-needed advantage against his massive opponent.

River-Otter-plush_150x150  vs   Northern-Cardinal-plush_150x180

RIVER OTTER  vs  NORTHERN CARDINAL

Waves and sky face off again in this match up. The river otter might look friendly, but her agility and speed will help her keep up with her flighty, brightly colored competitor.

Mallard-plushie_150x140   vs   Octopus-plushie_150x115

MALLARD  vs  COMMON OCTOPUS

It’s wings against arms in this battle of the water beasts. The mallard may have flight on his side, but don’t underestimate the disorienting power of an inky cloud!

Bat-plushie_150x73    vs   Atlantic-Puffin-plushie_150x174

BAT  vs  ATLANTIC PUFFIN

The competition heads to the sky as everyone’s favorite airborne mammal takes on the cheerful sea parrot. Choose sides as these two battle for supremacy in the air.

It’s a Southern Thing

Monarch-plush_150x83    vs   Brown-Pelican-plushie_150x139

MONARCH BUTTERFLY  vs  BROWN PELICAN

Float like a butterfly…or soar like a pelican? These two warm weather-loving creatures are taking this match-up to the skies.

Rattlesnake-plush_150x113    vs  Florida-Panther-plush_150x150

WESTERN DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE  vs  FLORIDA PANTHER

Reptiles or mammals? Baseball or hockey? Desert or swampland? These two southerners don’t agree on much, which makes for an excellent match up. When the dust from Round 1 settles, will we be hearing a victory rattle? Or a purr of contentment?

Armadillo-9-band-plushie_150x81   vs   Black-Bear-plushie_150x169

NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO  vs  BLACK BEAR

With a series of bony plates guarding his back, the nine-banded armadillo is ready to put on a solid defense against his formidable, fuzzy opponent: the black bear. But will a strong defense be enough to keep the bear at bay? Or will larger paws prevail?

Sea-Turtle-plush_150x96    vs   Barking-Tree-Frog-plushie_150x150

GREEN SEA TURTLE  vs  BARKING TREE FROG

From the depths of the sea to the tops of the trees, this match up has a little bit of something for everyone. Only you can decide if the barking tree frog will be able to hop over the competition or if the green sea turtle will swim on to victory.

Home on the Range

Mountain-Lion-plush_150x151    vs   Desert-Tortoise-plush_150x150

MOUNTAIN LION  vs  DESERT TORTOISE

The tortoise might have been able to beat the hare, but will he be able to best the stealthy mountain lion? Expect the desert tortoise to dig in and stand his ground against his feline foe.

 

Bison-plushie_150x105   vs   Bald-Eagle-plushie_150x196

BISON  vs  BALD EAGLE

It’s the battle of American icons! In May 2016, the bison was named national mammal of the United States, and the bald eagle has been the national symbol since 1782. Expect this patriotic match up to be one for the ages.

 

Pronghorn-plush_150x150    vs   Prairie-Dog-plush_150x240

PRONGHORN  vs  PRAIRIE DOG

Both highly social mammals native to the Great Plains, the pronghorn and the prairie dog each have a large extended family in their corner. This face-off is sure to be quick-moving and well attended.

 

American-Pika-plush_150x145    vs   Bighorn-Sheep-plushie_150x95

AMERICAN PIKA  vs  BIGHORN SHEEP

The pika may be small, but that doesn’t give her much of an advantage against her opponent on the rocky, narrow ledges both of these animals favor. The bighorn sheep is able to balance on shelves as small as 2″ across! This high-altitude battle is sure to be anything but boring.

 

You CAN Handle the Chill

Mountain-Goat-plushie_150x183   vs   Orca-plush_150x150

MOUNTAIN GOAT  vs  ORCA

The hyper-intelligent orca faces off against the nimble mountain goat. Will echolocation be able to help the “sea wolf” locate his opponent? Or will the mountain goat’s camouflage and climbing abilities lift him to Round 2?

 

Walrus-plush_150x80    vs   Canada-Lynx-plushie_150x175

WALRUS  vs  CANADA LYNX

The elusive Canada lynx will need to use all her wiles when going up against the walrus and his powerful tusks. Don’t count this small cat out yet, though. The Canada lynx has been expanding her range lately, recently spotted as far south as Vermont, so it’s not much of a stretch to think she might just stake her claim to victory, as well.

 

Polar-Bear-plushie_150x150   vs   Moose-plush_150x150

POLAR BEAR  vs  MOOSE

A true battle of the titans. Here the largest land carnivore on earth is facing off against the largest member of the deer family (and at over 1000 lbs, that’s a lot of deer). These massive northern mainstays virtually guarantee an earth-shaking competition.

 

Harp-Seal-plush_150x150    vs   Arctic-Fox-plush_150x150

HARP SEAL  vs  ARCTIC FOX

Arguably our cutest match up, the harp seal has size on his side (a full grown seal can weigh 600 lbs!) but the arctic fox is quick and cunning. Expect these winter warriors to be well matched in their battle.

 

Now that you’ve got the lay of the land, it’s time to get this party started! The road to the Final Fur opens on Monday, February 27th, don’t forget to vote for your favorites!

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