Billy is a young pangolin who came in from the illegal wildlife trade with an adult female we assumed was his mother. He arrived with an infected wound on his arm. Rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, pangolins are often suffering from stress and dehydration when they come to us – but Billy’s situation was particularly severe.

Billy’s at an age where he would be starting to move away from his mother and no longer drinking milk. It’s likely they would still be foraging in the same territory and possibly returning to the same burrow at night – but he wouldn’t be dependent on her. As the mother arrived relatively healthy, we made the decision to separate her from Billy so as not to keep her in captivity any longer than necessary. After a few days, “Mum” – as we called her during her stay with us – was able to be released back into the wild.

Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal, accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade.

Meanwhile, Billy’s wound worsened. We tried aggressive care with antibiotics and wound treatment but the infection spread quickly and it soon came down to his life or his arm. The decision to operate wasn’t an easy one as any surgery has risks and recovery can be challenging, but Billy proved to be a trooper! Within two days of his surgery he was out foraging again, using his remaining hand to open termite mounds.

With his dedicated pangolin carer providing regular wound cleaning and monitoring, Billy is continuing to heal well and behave like a normal young pangolin. From his lowest weight of 3.7kg, Billy has been thriving post-op and has now reached 5.7kg. We hope to release him in the near future – once he’s done a bit more growing.

Billy is just one of 33 pangolins we’ve cared for over the past year, up 40% from the year before. As the world’s most trafficked mammal, pangolins account for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade and are now threatened with extinction. This World Pangolin Day, please consider supporting our work with a donation as we rescue, rehabilitate and release these endangered animals back into the wild – where they belong.


While they look and act a lot like anteaters and armadillos, pangolins are more closely related to bears, cats and dogs.


number of pangolins we cared for in 2021

As with all the pangolins we care for, we appreciate the technical support and advice given to us by the Tikki Hywood Foundation.

Report pangolin crime

Help protect pangolins by anonymously notifying the authorities if you see pangolins for sale at markets or on restaurant menus, or if you know of anyone capturing or possessing pangolins.

To report suspicious activity, call 0994 942240 or email

Billy the pangolin February 2022 (Torie Curr Smith) 2