4 min read

People Find Truck Filled With Stolen Animals — And One Very Tiny Surprise

His mom gave birth just in time for him to be saved.

It was one of the largest busts wildlife rescuers in Vietnam had ever seen — but that wasn't even the most surprising part about it. 

People from Save Vietnam's Wildlife (SVW) arrived at the scene of a confiscation of 113 critically endangered pangolins. The animals had been tied up tightly in bags and stuffed in the back of a truck wildlife traffickers were planning to drive to China, where pangolin scales are considered a cure-all and pangolin meat is considered a delicacy.

Confiscated pangolins in Vietnam
Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Rescuers set to work cutting the terrified pangolins out of the bags. And one of the bags held a very tiny surprise.

Save Vietnam's Wildlife

"When we were freeing the animals out of the bags, we discovered one female had just given birth to a tiny baby pangolin," SVW said. "The baby was so young, the umbilical cord was still attached to his mother." 

Pangolin being cut out of bag
Save Vietnam's Wildlife
Baby pangolin born in wildlife trafficker's truck
Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Rescuers realized the new mom must have just given birth in the truck.

"Imagine giving birth inside this truck, surrounded by 113 other pangolins?" SVW said. "They were all held in tight bags, fighting for their lives."

The tiny baby's eyes hadn't even opened yet. When they did, he saw that he was in a safe place. Rescuers had brought the mother, baby and the other rescued pangolins back to the rescue center where they will be able to recover from their ordeal. The caretakers and vets at the rescue center are working 20 hours per day to save the lives of these animals.

"Many of them are in really bad condition because of force-feeding to increase the weight and wounds from hunting and transporting," SVW wrote

Rescued mother pangolin and baby
Save Vietnam's Wildlife
Save Vietnam's Wildlife

Roughly every five minutes, a pangolin is stolen from the wild to be trafficked for his scales and meat; about one million pangolins have been trafficked and killed in the last decade. The animal is considered the most highly trafficked mammal on the planet, which is why wildlife rescuers are so determined to save each and every one they can.

Once they're strong enough, these pangolins will be going back to the wild, where they belong.

You can help save pangolins by donating to SVW — they always need supplies to help the saved pangolins get stronger.