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Captive Research

Captive study on time-budgets and captive behaviours

CPCP cooperated with Manchester Metropolitan University to study time budgets and activity patterns of  captive the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica). The aim of the research was to assess the behaviour of captive Sunda pangolins in order to suggest ways of improving care and management. The study found Sunda pangolins spent only a short periods of time actively feeding and moving and that more environmental enrichment was needed to increase their activities. The stereotypical behaviour of captive Sunda pangolins of walking in laps around their enclosure was observed which suggested the need for the ‘furniture’ in their enclosure to be regularly changed. Another important result from this study is the relationship between stressed behavior and the quality of diet and contact between different sexes of pangolins.

Activity patterns of pangolins in our centre

The paper can be found here.

Research on Pangolin Reproductive Biology 

Breeding pangolins for commercial purposes is not an option and we highly advise against it. Many zoos have invested significant amounts of money and time and had minimal success. Pangolins are difficult to keep in captivity and have a specialised and expensive diet, which is difficult to obtain. Farming wildlife is not a solution for wildlife conservation. The WCS Vietnam program and Vietnam Forest Protection Department have published a detailed report on this subject. To read more click here.


There has been limited success in breeding pangolins in captivity. Historically, almost all pangolins die within a few weeks of capture. This is most likely due to a poor understanding of their dietary needs, health and social requirements. CPCP is the first project working on conservation of pangolins in Vietnam. We have been successfully rehabilitating pangolins and providing care them for over seven years before we commenced our monitored released programme in 2013. However, pangolins are still the most trafficked wildlife found in the illegal wildlife trade. Both species of Asian pangolin found in Vietnam are listed as Critically Endangered species in the IUCN red list. Together with reducing the demand for pangolins, improving law enforcement to stop illegal hunting and trading, it is important to learn how to breed pangolins for conservation purposes. Pangolin breeding programmes will help provide a secure populations to prepare for ex situ-conservation as their wild populations continue to decline. 


Baby is protected by her mum


Save Vietnam’s Wildlife recognises some of the key studies to archive the success including monitoring behaviour change, understanding the nutrition required, and scat samples examined to improve the understanding of stress levels through hormone analysis. It will help to develop the protocols for conservation breeding of pangolins and to improve understanding on the requirement to help increasing the success of captive breed pangolins.


Staff monitors pangolin behaviour using infa-red camera