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The Chinese giant salamander, the largest amphibian in the world, is not cute.Size, intelligence, behavior, rarity, how closely an animal resembles the human form -- all play a part in our reaction to various endangered creatures.An expert in human-animal relationships, Herzog said the dark rings around pandas' eyes triggered humans nurturing instincts.As with most things, popular culture has a huge effect on how society perceives animals.Even the depiction of fictional creatures can have a knock-on effect on public perception towards certain animals.Not that favoring certain cute or charismatic species is necessarily a bad thing for conservation."When we protect an iconic species, we protect their habitat and therefore all the organisms within it also benefit," said Legendre. But such species can become a victim of their own popularity.
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