Prague Zoo celebrates World Pangolin Day with Europe's first pangopup

February 18 is World Pangolin Day, and Prague Zoo has a lot to celebrate as Europe's first pangolin pup is doing well after a turbulent two weeks.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 18.02.2023 15:16:00 (updated on 19.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today is World Pangolin Day, and Prague Zoo has a lot to celebrate. After a turbulent first two weeks, the very first pangolin born in Europe is now doing well, Zoo director Miroslav Bobek reports on social media.

The baby pangolin (which is affectionately known as a pangopup) was welcomed into the world on February 3. She's the offspring of Chinese pangolins Run Hou Tang and Guo Bao, who came to Prague from Taipei Zoo last spring.

Prague Zoo is just the second zoo in Europe to have Chinese pangolins, which are a critically endangered species. Mom Run Hou Tang's pregnancy came as a surprise, and the unnamed pangolin pup is the very first to be born in Europe.

"I have written a lot about World Pangolin Day, which this year falls on this Saturday; and mostly these were sad texts on mass poaching of these amazing creatures and trafficking their scales," writes Bobek.

"However, this time, of course, I dedicate my column to the Chinese pangolin female, which was born in Prague Zoo on Thursday, February 2. Although we have gone through tough times with her, fortunately there are more and more reasons for optimism."

While the Zoo was overjoyed to welcome the pangolin pup into the world two weeks ago, caretakers knew that a lot of work lie ahead. Just days earlier, Prague Zoo's youngest elephant Amalee died with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus.

"Our initial joy from the birth of the pangolin baby was unfortunately replaced by worries about its fate over the following few days," writes Bobek.

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"Not only it did not gain weight during the first and second days, but during the third, fourth and fifth day, it was even slowly losing [weight]. Although it was active and showed the will to live and the mother Run Hou Tang took excellent care of it, she obviously did not have enough mother’s milk."

After consulting with experts from Taipei Zoo, Prague Zoo's keepers decided to begin feeding the baby artificially with a substitute mixture made from cat's milk. While the baby began to gain weight, there was a risk that it's bond with the mother would be broken, or that it would refuse to accept the mother's milk.

With the baby still not gaining enough weight, keepers upped the feeding schedule to three times per day, and stimulated the mother in order to produce more milk. This past week, things finally began to look well for the pup.

"At the turn of last and this week things finally turned for the better," reports Bobek. "From one feeding to the next, the baby gained weight and was visibly growing. This week we were able to decrease the doses of substitute milk and the frequency of feeding."

Prague Zoo's baby pangolin does not yet have a name, though keepers have given her a temporary nickname of "Malá Šiška" ("Little Pinecone"), after her appearance.

"[She] develops well and makes us happy, even if her care takes a lot out of our colleagues," Bobek adds. "However, we have only overcome the first difficulties and there are still more to come. Hopefully everything will end well…"

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