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August 16, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Pangolin

When my dad was a boy, back in the old country, he came across a pangolin for sale at a pet shop. This was back in the day when more or less anything was available (sometimes through catalogue, I’m told) as a companion animal—especially, one assumes, those species that are now classified as endangered. Still, that aside, I sincerely regret that Dad passed on the pangolin. A cursory Google search (“when do pangolins die”) revealed that their lifespan is up to 20 years—just enough for me to have had a brief friendship with dad’s now-elderly pet. Photos of me as a baby would have pictured me pulling Pangy’s tail; him lapping up my baby food with his long tongue; and us both hunting for ants in the garden. I suppose now I should explain what a pangolin, or ‘scaly anteater’, is. Well, it is a relative of the anteater, the armadillo, and that inaugural ‘Animal of the Week’, the sloth. It is found in tropical regions of Asia and Africa, and it’s covered in large, sharp scales of keratin—the same stuff human fingernails are made of. Basically, it looks like Sandshrew, pre-Sandslash. They can contort into a ball; they have powerful front claws, so long that they can’t walk on all fours; and they lack teeth, instead using their incredibly long tongues to feed almost exclusively on ants and termites. For some reason, in China the pangolin is considered a delicacy. Certainly, I don’t want to eat it so much as I want to grow up with it—and somewhere, in a Sliding Doors parallel universe, maybe I did. Here’s hoping!

Email suggestions for an upcoming ‘Animal of the Week’ to elle@salient.org.nz.

ANIMAL FACT!
Animals would win the Olympics if they were allowed to enter.

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About the Author ()

Elle started out at Salient reviewing music. In 2010, she wrote features and Animal of The Week, which an informal poll revealed to be 40% of Victoria students' favourite part of the magazine. Alongside Uther Dean, she was co-editor for 2011. In 2012, she is chief features writer.

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