The Pittsburgh Zoo Is One Of 6 American Zoos Actually Stepping Up To Help Save Pangolins From Extinction

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Despite banning the trade of pangolin in China more than a decade ago, some people apparently still have no problem eating the meat from what has become the most illegally trafficked mammal on Earth.

“It tasted great,” a Hong Kong businessman posted on the Internet while declaring that he had fallen “deeply in love with the taste of wildlife” after recently trying pangolin for the first time.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the visitor was among a group of local government officials and businessmen who feasted on the animal during an extravagant banquet that was held at a trade conference in the Guangxi region of China; an area also known to be affiliated with the controversial Yulin Dog Meat Festival that takes place annually on June 15.

The troubling topic was raised last month when Justin Miller and other representatives of the Florida-based nonprofit group Pangolin Conservation visited the Pittsburgh Zoo which is currently home to three wild-born pangolins. Held in captivity and used for research, the animals reportedly are not expected to be available for public viewing for two years.

“They’re not in the public eye like the lion or rhinoceros, and the effort among several groups in addition to mine to build support for funding programs is starting late,” Miller said in the article referring to the animals somewhat low profile. “Of the eight remaining species of pangolins, four are threatened, two are endangered, and two are critically endangered.”

While little research has been done on pangolins, The Pittsburgh Zoo is currently one of six American zoos collaborating on research of the animal.

Ken Kaemmerer, the zoo’s mammal curator, explained that they are working with Duquesne University to do the first DNA analysis of the pangolin.

In addition to being poached to be consumed as a luxury food or status symbol, Pangolins are also killed for use in Asian medicines as well as for their unique scales.

South China Morning Post

As recently as last week, Hong Kong customs officers uncovered more than 7 tons of what they believe to be pangolin scales in containers that arrived from Africa.

Also as WAN reported, earlier in May, more than 2 million dollars worth of pangolin scales were seized from Kuala Lumpar airport in Malaysia.

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