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Pangolin apocalypse! Can the zoos of the world do anything to help prevent it?

 
 
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  #1
Pangolin apocalypse! Can the zoos of the world do anything to help prevent it?
Old 07-10-2011

Chlidonias recently posted this story in the wildlife conservation forum about the shocking and unsustainable hunting of pangolins. 22,000 (AT LEAST) pangolins were hunted from one region of Asia in 21 MONTHS.

the southeast Asian pangolin trade

It's not going to take to long to permanently relieve the planet of its pangolins at this rate.

This seems like the kind of issue that the zoo world should be meeting head on. Most zoos don't have pangolins and most people have no idea what a pangolin is, but I have a feeling if they did that they would really like them and hopefully not like the idea of them going extinct. There was a baby African pangolin at the LA Zoo a few years ago that had been confiscated from a well-meaning lady who had rescued it from a bush meat market. The pangolin got much media attention and brought many people to see it. Unfortunately it died soon after. Apparently pangolin husbandry is very difficult which is probably why we see almost none of them in US zoos at least.

Nonetheless is there anything that zoos can do to bring attention to this issue and introduce folks to pangolins, even if they don't actually have them in their collection? This is obviously a tricky conservation issue as it has no obvious way for zoo visitors to help pangolins, but can anyone think of ANYTHING that the world zoo community (including those of us who hang out here - we are a legitimate part of the zoo community) can do to help raise meaningful awareness and action for this problem?

If anyone is interested here is a story on the LA Zoo pangolin:
Pangolin Zoo | L.A. Zoo's Young Pangolin Dies; He Had Thrived Until Recently - Los Angeles Times

Another story with a picture of the baby pangolin:
http://blogging.la/2005/10/07/requiem-for-a-pangolin/
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  #2
Old 07-10-2011

How would zoos go about getting pangolins into their collection?? If there are none or extremly rare within the US and Europe aswell (I believe)??
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Old 07-10-2011

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Originally Posted by Badgerman91 View Post
How would zoos go about getting pangolins into their collection?? If there are none or extremly rare within the US and Europe aswell (I believe)??
If the authorities in Indonesia and other pangolin range countries in SE Asia are confiscating large numbers of pangolins it seems like a potential natural source of zoo animals as conservation ambassadors. This wouldn't work however if no zoos can keep pangolins alive.

Do any of the excellent Asian zoos like Singapore have good husbandry track records with pangolins?

My main interest in starting this thread was trying to think of ways that zoos can help respond to the crisis with positive action. Several zoos are active in trying to stop the African bushmeat trade in apes, monkeys, etc. (probably African pangolins too). Does anyone know about that?

I know that WWF and other organizations have people on the ground monitoring the Asian animal trade in turtles, pangolins, etc. It seems like zoos could help scale this up by funding positions and then finding engaging ways to tell their visitors about why this work is important.

My major question here is how could zoos tell people what pangolins are and what their crisis is about? The obvious answer is to bring pangolins into their collections, but husbandry issues seem to be a barrier to that. Can pangolinless zoos still promote pangolin conservation?

Last edited by DavidBrown; 07-10-2011 at 04:55 PM..
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  #4
Old 07-10-2011

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Originally Posted by DavidBrown View Post
If the authorities in Indonesia and other pangolin range countries in SE Asia are confiscating large numbers of pangolins it seems like a potential natural source of zoo animals as conservation ambassadors. This wouldn't work however if no zoos can keep pangolins alive.
The only European zoo with pangolins is Leipzig (where I had the great pleasure of seeing them for the first time last month). They have 1.1 Manis pentadacyla pentadactyla (Taiwanese form of Chinese Pangolin); the male has been there since 2007 and the female since 2009 - so in this case at least keeping them alive does not seem to be too much of a problem.

I'd be very interested to see another zoo try to keep them on the same procedures to see if Leipzig just have a particularly resilient/adaptable pair of animals or if they have indeed cracked what has historically been a very difficult group.
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  #5
Old 08-10-2011

Afaik, Taipeh Zoo in Taiwan "cracked" pangolin husbandry in the sense that they at least can keep their animals alive (it's also Leipzig's source for their two pangolins).

They had some births from wild-caught pregnant females and if I remember correctly one birth of a youngster that was conceived in the zoo but also died within a few weeks? So a succesfull birth still has to be achieved.

Does anyone know anything about the two african pangolin that San Diego kept a few months (years?) ago? Last I heared they where kept behind the scenes and used in either presentations or "meet and greet" kinda things? Are they still there?
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  #6
Old 08-10-2011

The hard truth is that for most animals cracking husbandry involves trial and error. 50 years ago howler monkeys, colobus, gorillas, snow leopards and okapi were all species that zoos were pleased to keep alive, never mind breed.

Personally I'd have said that 4/5 zoos in N America/Japan/Australia/Europe should go to Taipei or Singapore to pick up hints on pangolin husbandry with the aim of importing a population of (say) 30-40 animals (species open to debate). The longer this enterprise is put off the rarer the animals will get in the wild.
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  #7
Old 08-10-2011

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Originally Posted by DavidBrown View Post
If the authorities in Indonesia and other pangolin range countries in SE Asia are confiscating large numbers of pangolins it seems like a potential natural source of zoo animals as conservation ambassadors.
I think you'll find that all the pangolins seized were dead, either the skins or just piles of scales.
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Old 08-10-2011

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I think you'll find that all the pangolins seized were dead, either the skins or just piles of scales.
Husbandry wouldn't be that much of challenge then

This is just really sad all around.

I see zoos as being the only place with a megaphone loud enough to broadcast this crisis and make anyone care about it, or aware of what a pangolin is for that matter. Probably nobody is going to make a pangolin movie or write a bestselling pangolin book.

No doubt some conservation groups are doing great work on this but they need a way to publicize it to people who care. If zoos are serious about being meaningful conservation organizations then this is a primary role that they could develop.
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  #9
Old 08-10-2011

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Originally Posted by jwer View Post
Afaik, Taipeh Zoo in Taiwan "cracked" pangolin husbandry in the sense that they at least can keep their animals alive (it's also Leipzig's source for their two pangolins).

They had some births from wild-caught pregnant females and if I remember correctly one birth of a youngster that was conceived in the zoo but also died within a few weeks? So a succesfull birth still has to be achieved.
The first birth died as you mentioned, but since then 3 more have been born and reportedly survived, including one born in December last year:
- CNA ENGLISH NEWS

Taipei zoo has been a pioneer in Pangolin husbandry. The captive diet has been the most challenging aspect of keeping pangolins alive in captivity, but Taipei zoo has come up with a successful formula. Singapore learnt much of the husbandry techniques from Taipei, but tweaked the diet to suit the Sunda pangolin species it keeps.

Singapore recorded two births this year that were conceived in captivity, and both babies survived.
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  #10
Old 08-10-2011

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Originally Posted by DavidBrown View Post
I see zoos as being the only place with a megaphone loud enough to broadcast this crisis and make anyone care about it, or aware of what a pangolin is for that matter. Probably nobody is going to make a pangolin movie or write a bestselling pangolin book.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore has worked with the national newspaper "The Straits Times" to publish regular front-page ads highlighting the plight of pangolins (as well as other endangered species):

WRSCF.Press.Pangolin.jpg (image)

The newspaper is widely circulated and is available on Singapore Airlines flights. Its a start, and I would like to see collaborations with NatGeo and Discovery channels to create an even louder voice in the SE Asia region.
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  #11
Old 08-10-2011

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Originally Posted by Zooish View Post
Wildlife Reserves Singapore has worked with the national newspaper "The Straits Times" to publish regular front-page ads highlighting the plight of pangolins (as well as other endangered species):

WRSCF.Press.Pangolin.jpg (image)

The newspaper is widely circulated and is available on Singapore Airlines flights. Its a start, and I would like to see collaborations with NatGeo and Discovery channels to create an even louder voice in the SE Asia region.
This is great Zooish. Thank you for sharing it. I wish that more zoos in other parts of the world could network to amplify these efforts.

Obviously putting any kind of dent in this problem is a massive challenge. I don't know if a network of zoos and interested zoo visitors/supporters could make some appreciable difference in the problem, but somebody needs to test this hypothesis.
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  #12
Old 08-10-2011

Doesn't San Diego Zoo have / or had tree pangolins recently?
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  #13
Old 08-10-2011

In recent years there have been several large shipments of living Pangolins confiscated whilst passing through Thailand en route from Malaysia heading through towards Vietnam and then into China.
The confiscated animals are sent to some of the many excellent rescue centres in Thailand but there the story ends. As has been pointed out they are a difficult species in captivity and keeping them alive is not easy. What happens to already weak and stressed animals. I can only imagine that most do not survive. The best hope being quick release into suitable habitat for the strongest.
It strikes me that is is an important are for research for the more reputable Thai zoos. Armed with the latest information on captive care they would be in a position to establish some protocols.
Here is an article I wrote on Pangolins back in July 2009.
Pangolins in Peril
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  #14
Old 13-10-2011

I came in contact with a big live-animal export company in the netherlands a few years ago who advertised two asian pangolin species, can't remember them to be CITES A(app.1 outside europe) No doubt though this was a most unserious company, who often got in trouble due to their rather poor husbandry etc. One would think some of the pangolins they sold would still be in europe?
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  #15
Old 21-10-2011

I think the bottom line is that we are going to lose more and more species unless we get the human population under control. More space ocupied by humans = less space for wild animals. Simple as that. Of course we should try and save individual species, but concentrating on that alone is like rebuilding houses on a cliff while ignoring that the cliff is eroding.
 


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