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When the very busy little pangolin named Stevie, is not out and about looking for a termite snack, the confident little guy is taking a very much enjoyed mud bath. 

Sarah Kempen, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital (JWVH) explained, “He thoroughly enjoys playing with rocks, tree branches and even tree stumps. He will roll around these elements and has even been known to roll down small embankments and termite mounds.” When he was still just a baby, the little Stevie, was rescued from poachers in the South African city of Pretoria. Rescuers found Stevie in a fragile stage as he was underweight and sick after having been separated from his mom.

In traditional Asian medicine, Pangolin scales are prized for their use and the cute animal’s meat is considered a delicacy. Kempen further added, “As the most trafficked mammal in the world, their lives and ours are at risk. Thus, we have an off-site clinic where they are safe, away from our usual hospital grounds.”

After arriving and being nurtured at the hospital, Stevie’s health quickly improved. “Since arriving at the hospital, he has gained over 4 kilograms (over 8 pounds). He is a much more confident pangolin, and he is able to forage for termites on his own. When he first arrived, he relied on a special milk formula exclusively as food. Over the weeks that followed, and as his health improved, he went out foraging for ants and termites.”

Because little Stevie was separated from his mother at a baby, the hospital staff had to coach Stevie in natural pangolin behaviour. But the one thing Stevie didn’t need any help learning and that became his favourite thing to do, was taking a mud bath. “As soon as he finds a puddle of water, he usually rolls in it. This seems to cool him down substantially, which enables him to feed for longer and be more comfortable as he doesn't get so hot.”

“Pangolin are known for mud/fresh dung baths,” she added. “We believe this is to not only cool them down, but to also potentially offer protection against parasites.” 

“For the first few weeks, he will be monitored carefully and will be taken out on daily walks as he acclimatises himself to his new surroundings and food sources. After some time, he will be ready for full release where he will be free to roam and monitored continuously to ensure his safety. The conservationists will also monitor his weight and progress to ensure that he is happy and healthy.”

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