Wildlife Reserves Singapore adopts lost baby pangolin
Published on Friday, 28 April 2017
Photo credit: Wildlife Press
Adopting a baby Sunda pangolin (also known as a scaly anteater) is no easy feat—the critically endangered animals only have a survival rate of 50 percent when put under human care. The pangolin was found weak and hungry, wandering near Upper Thompson Road on 22 February this year. The animal was rescued by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), where vets there made a desperate attempt to hand-raise the little guy that has been nicknamed Sandshrew.
In order to raise this four-month-old, the pangolin’s diet had to be carefully thought out. The creature rejected kitten milk because it was too used to its mother’s milk in the wild. To add to the challenge of looking after the creature, the pangolin was at the stage where it was just weaning off its mother’s milk and moving on to solid food such as ants and termites. This change in diet gave the poor critter intestinal problems and it had to be put under 24-hour surveillance for about one and a half weeks. Thankfully, the baby pangolin was responsive to the intensive care offered by the vets and is now eating ants’ eggs along with his diet of kitten milk replacer that he initially rejected.
His natural behaviour had to be trained by his caretakers as well, so the adopted scaly anteater is taken on walks twice a day in forested areas. During these walks, the pangolin is taught to forage for food so that he can exercise his keen sense of smell and strong claws, which the animal uses to dig for ants. Pangolins are also excellent tree-climbers, which is why his enclosure now has a large tree branch for him to hone his climbing skills.
The Sunda pangolin is currently a critically endangered species. They are heavily involved in illegal wildlife trafficking because they are ingredients in traditional medicinal concoctions in East Asia. In order to educate the public on conserving these creatures, WRS will start a new keeper interaction and feeding programme in the Night Safari that will begin in mid-May. During the session, visitors will be educated on the status of the Sunda pangolin in the wild and will get a chance to watch the creatures being fed in their exhibits.
There are a total of seven Sunda pangolins at the Night Safari in Singapore, two of which were raised by humans. Once this baby pangolin is independent, he will join the seven other pangolins at Night Safari’s Fishing Cat Trail. You can find out more about Sandshrew and the pangolin exhibition at the Night Safari here.