First pangolin born in Europe ‘doing well’ after zookeepers fed her cat milk

Meet ‘Little Cone’, the first baby pangolin born at a European zoo.
Meet ‘Little Cone’, the first baby pangolin born at a European zoo.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Petr David Josek
By Lottie Limb  with AP

A Chinese pangolin has been born at a European zoo for the first time.

Welcomed into the world at Prague Zoo, the pangolin baby is the first of her critically endangered species to be born in captivity in Europe.

The tiny scaly-skinned mammal - nicknamed “Little Cone” because she resembles a spruce cone - is doing well after some initial troubles, the park said on Thursday.

For the first few days after the baby female was born on 2 February, zookeepers were worried because she was losing weight.

It transpired that her mother, Run Hou Tang, didn’t have enough milk.

Petr David Josek/AP
'Little Cone' was born weighing just 35g.Petr David Josek/AP

Following consultations with experts from Taiwan, a programme of artificial feeding with milk from a cat was introduced and the mother was stimulated to produce more of her own.

That turned things around, with the zoo now expressing cautious optimism about the pup, who is yet to be officially named.

“We have only overcome the first hurdle and others are still waiting for us," zoo director Miroslav Bobek said.

Little Cone was born weighing just 135 grams, slightly less than a cricket ball. Adults can reach up to around 7kg.

As for size, the toy walrus in the photos gives some indication of her miniature stature.

Why are pangolins endangered?

Petr David Josek/AP
It’s estimated that almost 200,000 pangolins were trafficked in 2019.Petr David Josek/AP

The Chinese pangolin is native to southern China and southeastern Asia and is one of the four pangolin species living in Asia, while another four can be found in Africa.

Prague received the rare animal from Taiwan last year, becoming only the second European zoo to keep the species.

Guo Bao, the male pangolin, and Run Hou Tang both came from the Taipei Zoo, the leading breeder of the mammals that are hunted heavily for their scales and meat.

It’s estimated that almost 200,000 were trafficked in 2019 because of the scales that are used in traditional medicine in Asia and elsewhere.

Pangolins difficult to breed in captivity because they require a special feed that includes drone larvae and need a particular humidity and temperature in their enclosure.