Prague Zoo kicks off 2023 season by naming its baby pangolin

The first pangolin born in Europe now has a name: Šiška (Spruce cone) was even welcomed by famed conservationist Jane Goodall yesterday at Prague Zoo

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 26.03.2023 10:00:00 (updated on 26.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague Zoo's baby pangolin officially has a name! The zoo officially opened its 92nd season yesterday with a ceremony that included the naming of the first pangolin born in Europe: Šiška (Spruce cone), due to her scaly brown appearance.

The baby pangolin had already been nicknamed Šiška by caretakers at the zoo shortly after her birth, and Zoo director Miroslav Bobek submitted the name to a competition during which visitors could vote on the pangolin's name. Šiška defeated names like Šupinka (Scale) and translations of Cone in English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese.

Yesterday's ceremony at Prague Zoo was attended by Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, former mayor Zdeněk Hřib, and a very special guest: renowned conservationist Jane Goodall, who joined the zoo through a recorded video.

"I would like to at least send a message during this special occasion to welcome a baby Chinese pangolin into the world," Goodall told guests at yesterday's ceremony. "She is already about six weeks old, and if she lives to maturity - which she surely will - she will be the first pangolin to be raised in Europe."

"All pangolins are endangered. They are the most trafficked animal in the world. And just look at this little baby now and think of how people will pull off the scales and sell them because they think that they're good medicine - which of course they aren't, they're basically like our fingernails."

"I wish you all a wonderful time during this special ceremony. I hope you come up with a fantastic name for the little girl and that I can come see her myself soon. Congratulations to team at Prague Zoo who brought this miracle about."

Šiška had a tumultuous first few weeks after her birth at Prague Zoo, but is now said to be doing well. Caretakers continue to feed her milk, checking her weight twice per week, and place her on a stuffed animal to keep her calm.

Prague Zoo is only the second in Europe to keep pangolins, and the first to raise a newborn. The Zoo is expecting some more newborns in the coming months: Cooper the wombat is currently expecting, as are the zoo's Tasmanian devils.

Zoo director Bobek told guests yesterday that he was happy they chose Šiška as the official name for the baby pangolin.

"I can not hide my joy that the name Šiška finally won in the public vote and that the original nickname is now her official name," he said.

"Šiška - just like her parents - can be considered an ambassador for wild pangolins, which face extensive hunting in their native lands. This is the most important message from today's ceremony, which is also evidenced by the personal wishes of world-class conservationist Jane Goodall."

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