Helping Pangolins In Distress

EmerAid donations and preparing EmerAid for feeding tube pangolin getting feeding tube and being fed EmerAid pangolin recovering from anesthesiaThe following story was shared with us by Jonathan Lorenzo, LVT, CVT, wildlife vet tech and biology student working with Save Vietnam’s Wildlife.

We use the EmerAid Intensive Care Carnivore on a number of pangolin patients that come through the rescue center needing supportive care. These pangolins have sub-optimal body condition and inappetance. This is almost always caused by cumulative stress from being taken from the wild by poachers illegally, then seized and transported to our rescue once authorities capture the poachers. Save Vietnam’s Wildlife then does medical triage and rehabilitation.

The photos show the process of me delivering EmerAid to Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, calculating dosages, delivering to patients in need and the successful recovery of that animal after the anesthetic procedure. I took part in every step of this process — doing calculations, mixing EmerAid, running anesthesia on patients and photographing the Vietnamese veterinarian at work.

Across the board I would say the results have been good and sometimes great. On initial tube-feedings we have used a 100% mixture of EmerAid following the guidelines provided for total percentage volume. On second tube-feedings we gave the same or slightly increased volume and also divided that total volume up between EmerAid and ant eggs that were blended into a slurry and carefully syringe-measured. Before administering we prepare a mixture that is more than the desired amount to deliver in order to allow for some waste in the bowl, around the spoon, syringe, etc. We always delivered, at minimum, the indicated percentage per EmerAid instructions.

There were occasions when the pangolins had loose stool the days following the tube-feeding. This was a yellowish color that is believed could be from supplement as these animals didn’t have such discolored feces before. In some cases the pangolins have started eating 100% of their diet of ant eggs appropriate for their size and had normal stools within 24 hours of tube-feedings. In other cases the pangolins ate a low percentage of their ant eggs in the following days and had days of no intake leading to a second tube-feeding. None of these pangolins have needed a third tube-feeding and none have perished. We also treat them with fluids (IV and SC) as well as drug therapy for their other symptoms. Medications have included treatments with metronidazole, meloxicam, amox/clav, enrofloxacin, and cimetidine.

The tube-feeding process for these pangolins has to be done under sedation and is typically done so with a low dose of Zoletil IM for initial effects and muscle relaxation following by light isoflurane as needed to maintain anesthetic depth while positioning the pangolin, potentially extracting tongue some to better place tube over the tongue sheath and into the esophagus. We must avoid not only trachea, but also either salivary gland, which are substantially sized on a pangolin because it is a myrmecophagous (ant eating) mammal.

We are so pleased that we have EmerAid to help the world’s most poached mammal fight off extinction from the pressures of the illegal wildlife trade.