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Prague mayor eagerly prepares for arrival of Taipei Zoo pangolins

Zdenek Hrib takes to Facebook to announce Run Hou Tang, Gun Bao’s pending trip

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Run Hou Tang will be traveling to Prague in March. (Taipei Zoo photo)

Run Hou Tang will be traveling to Prague in March. (Taipei Zoo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taipei Zoo is currently preparing a pair of pangolins for a trip to Prague in March, Mayor Zdenek Hrib shared on his Facebook page on Saturday (Nov. 13).

Hrib wrote that all pangolin species are currently endangered “because their meat is said to be quite delicious, and their scales and other body parts are used in Chinese medicine.” He added that they are one of the most illegally traded mammals in the world.

According to the Taipei Zoo, the Leipzig Zoological Garden in Germany is currently the only zoo in Europe to house pangolins, which were also originally residents of the Taipei Zoo. As the Prague Zoological Garden does not have experience caring for the animals, it had to make adjustments to the exhibition space and send experienced zookeepers to Taipei and learn the requisite skills.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, construction necessary to house the pangolins in Prague was delayed, and zookeepers went to Leipzig instead for training, CNA reported. The Taipei Zoo hopes to send zookeepers of its own to Prague to promote bilateral exchange.

Both Prague-bound pangolins were born and raised in captivity and selected to preserve genetic diversity, per the Taipei Zoo.

The female, Run Hou Tang (潤喉糖, “cough drop”) was born on Sept. 2, 2017, and is the fourth generation of the pangolin family living at the zoo. The male, Gun Bao (果寶, “precious fruit”), was born on April 9, 2020, to parents who were rescued.

Though the pangolins already have names, Hrib wrote on Facebook that it would be great to give the couple nice Czech nicknames. He added that a voting event will be announced on the city’s online portal.

In 2019, Hrib actively worked to negotiate a pangolin loaning program during Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) visit to the Czech capital, telling Ko about his love for the animal since childhood and describing it as akin to a “moving pinecone,” reported the Taipei Zoo. During Hrib’s trip to Taipei in 2020, Hrib personally visited the zoo and met Run Hou Tang and Gun Bao.

Prague mayor eagerly prepares for arrival of Taipei Zoo pangolins
Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib poses with Taipei Deputy Mayor Huang Shan-shan at Taipei Zoo. (Taipei Zoo photo)