Plan to Save World's Most Trafficked Mammal Ignites Debate
Six zoos and one nonprofit have teamed up to breed pangolins before it’s too late—but critics say the scaly African creatures will likely die in captivity.
If during the past decade you’d wanted to see a scaly creature about the size of a house cat with a long skinny tongue for slurping up ants, California’s San Diego Zoo was the place to go in the U.S. Baba the pangolin arrived there in 2007 after wildlife officials intercepted him in an illegal shipment.
He survived in the zoo until last year, when he died after keepers noticed he was behaving abnormally, according to the San Diego Tribune. As it turns out, pangolins are hard to raise in captivity and often die prematurely.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t deterred six U.S. zoos and one nonprofit organization, Florida-based Pangolin Conservation, from quietly bringing in about 45 pangolins of their own from Africa