Feb 14, 2019
While other well known and charismatic species like rhinos, tigers, and elephants garner more headlines, the small, shy, and nocturnal pangolin has the sad distinction of being the globe's most illegally trafficked animal. Prized for their meat and the few hundred keratin scales that cover their bodies like a suit of armor that's strong enough to repel lion attacks, pangolins are no match for Nature's top predator, man. And the result of the industrial-sized poaching occurring over the past few decades may be the extinction of all 8 varieties of this gentle creature that feeds exclusively on thousands of ants, termites, and other insects each day.
Recently, a consortium of 7 North American zoos, including the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium imported a small group of one pangolin species to better understand their behavior, physiology, and highly specialized nutritional requirements. It is a great example of zoos working across trade association affiliations like www.AZA.org and www.ZAA.org to improve our husbandry and overall understanding of this species before it's too late to preserve them.
World Pangolin Day is this Saturday, February 16th.