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Endangered Animals' Sounds Liven Up Ringtones

Fri Jan 2, 2009 - 12:14 PM EST - By Jay Gross

An Arizona environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity, is celebrating the success of their program that put the calls of endangered species into cell phone ringtones. The New York Times has dubbed it the "call of the wild."

Started in 2006, the program is celebrating 200,000 ringtone downloads. The group offers dozens of sounds, including a few from species that aren’t ("yet," they said) endangered.

According to the Times' article:

Bumper stickers produce instant reactions, pro and con, said Peter Galvin, the center's conservation director. But with wildlife sounds, Mr. Galvin added, "people don't already have their filters on for how they receive that information."

The Times thoughtfully includes a convenient sidebar of audio links that play representative sounds - bobcat, common loon, elk, grizzly, Mexican gray wolf, and my favorite, an orca. The ringtones themselves are available free from www.rareearthtones.org, which is operated by the Center for Biological Diversity. The method for obtaining the ringtones differs among carriers, but generally you have to sign up to receive them, and then receive a text or other type of message on your phone. Refer to the Center's FAQ for more information. When I tried to get the grizzly bear ringtone, the signup page was not working. I've reported that problem, so it should be repaired soon.

Please, please, don't everybody install the orca - let's have a little ringtone diversity, too. But I can see this getting out of hand, and bus stops will sound like rain forests. On the other hand, that would be so much more interesting than "ring-ring." Now, is that a wolf stalking you, or is it your cell phone ringing?

Note: I took the picture of the pair of grizzly bears. It's not in the Times.

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