The elusive “man with ponytail” is no longer considered an endangered species and has been reclassified as “vulnerable,” according to a report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The change comes after conservationists observed significant population increases on the west coast and in urban centers of the United States. But scientists warn that, despite the reclassification, the species still faces significant challenges in the wild.
“The man with ponytail faces a high risk of extinction in the South, and efforts to reintroduce it to rural parts of the country have met with mixed success,” said Tad Branigan, head of the World Wildlife Fund’s man with ponytail conservation program. “It’s only able to breed in the wild at Starbucks and certain locally-owned microbreweries, but we have had some success mating it in captivity at organic farmer’s markets in North Carolina.”
The man with ponytail was initially classified as endangered in 2004, as many former hippies began balding or dying off. In 2010 or 2011, however, their population started bouncing back.
“We estimate there are no less than 10,000 men with ponytails in Seattle alone, including ‘man bun’ subspecies,” said Branigan, noting that conservation efforts in Portland and San Francisco have met with equal success. “If our ongoing reintroduction programs in Boston and San Diego go well, we could reach 1972 population numbers within the next three years.”
Branigan added that accurately assessing the man with ponytail’s population is difficult work, as they will sometimes spend four or five hours on end typing on their MacBook in a posh coffee shop before coming onto the street where they can be tagged and tracked via GPS.
“In the end it’s worth it just to see them in all their majestic beauty,” said Branigan. “It’s a delicate ecosystem, but I don’t think the man with ponytail will be going extinct anytime soon.”