There are only 22 Gobi bears left in the world, a paltry number that could easily vanish before the next generation matures. With only eight females and 14 males left to sustain their existence, these rare bears can barely stay afloat in their own gene pool.

But thanks to the United Nations Environment Program, the Gobi bear — also known as "Mazaalai" in its native Mongolia — may have one last lease on life. Not only has UNEP labeled 2013 "the Year of Protecting Mazaalai," but it's running an awareness campaign about the bears tied to World Environment Day on June 5. Mongolia is the host country for World Environment Day 2013, giving the bears a much-needed moment in the sun.

In honor of this effort, here are two documentaries about the rarely seen Gobi bear and its longshot struggle against extinction:

"The Gobi Bear" (2011)

"Fading Footprints" (2012)

For more information about Gobi bears, check out the Mazaalai Foundation, as well as UNEP's "Hug a Gobi Bear" campaign.

Related endangered species stories on MNN:

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

Mongolia's Gobi bear clings to existence
Mongolia, the host of this year's World Environment Day, is home to Earth's rarest bear. Conservationists hope 2013 will mark the start of its comeback.