Prague’s baby pangolin hits an important milestone

Šiška’s breeding has been deemed a success, as the baby has now gotten past the most difficult period.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.08.2023 16:30:00 (updated on 01.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Prague Zoo can claim one of its greatest breeding successes in its entire history. The female short-tailed pangolin named Šiška has hit an important landmark and will be six months old on Aug. 2. After that date, the breeding is deemed to be successful. Šiška has already fully transitioned from breast milk to solid food.

"The breeding of Šiška is essential not only because it was associated with a number of difficulties, but because it is the first young pangolin bred in Europe. At the same time, it should be emphasized that these scaly mammals living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are highly threatened by illegal hunting and trade," Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek said.

"Šiška not only enjoys the attention of visitors and the media but there is also an extraordinary interest in the world of zoos. Her story is also followed by world conservationists such as Jane Goodall. I can't imagine a more vivid proof of the importance of this upbringing," he added.

Šiška rides on her mother's back. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo
Šiška rides on her mother's back. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo

Some initial difficulties

The first weeks of the baby's life were not without problems. Siška had a reasonable birth weight, was healthy, and had a zest for life. Mother Run Hou Tang also took very good care of her, watched over her, and placed her on her belly, the zoo said in a press release.

The problem was that the mother did not produce enough breast milk. Thanks to preparations to support lactation, replacement food for kittens, which Šiška willingly accepted, and the continuous care of the breeders, she soon began to gain weight.

Currently, Šiška weighs over 1,700 grams, more than 12 times her birth weight. Twice a day, she is fed a special porridge made with the larvae of bee drones. This will provide the nutrients to support the growth of scales.

Šiška eats her special porridge. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo
Šiška eats her special porridge. Photo: Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo

She climbs the branches of the exhibit in the Indonesian jungle and digs in the dirt. Before long she will be old enough that her mother will no longer carry her. She is active in the morning after 9 a.m., right after the zoo gates open, and then again around 3 p.m. when feeding.

The two parent pangolins – mother Run Hou Tang and a male named Guo Bao – are in the Prague Zoo thanks to cooperation between Prague and the Taiwanese city of Taipei. Her baby was named following a public contest and means "pinecone." 

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