One might ask why Google would devote a 4-day Valentine’s series of Doodles in 2017 for a species that is little known to the general populace? And why is Google software engineer Jordan Thomas telling us to “woo our pango-love with Google’s latest Doodle Game”?
Like so many of this planet's endangered species, such as the elephant and the cheetah, the world should be most concerned about the the fact we are living through the Sixth Mass Extinction of animals on this planet. While the pangolin’s plight is a lesser known threat, Google needs to be commended for bringing their important story to light.
Known as the ’scaly anteater,’ pangolins are the only mammals with scales, a trait, which is usually reserved for reptiles. This physical attribute comes in handy in warding off predators, when they can quickly curl up into a tight ball to protect themselves.
However, even with that natural attribute, pangolins are the most-trafficked mammal in the world by poachers who illegally sell their unique scales for fashion products.
Presently, there are eight species of pangolin, four each in Asia and Africa, and all are under threat, including two species listed as Critically Endangered.
Google's Valentine Tale
Told in a child’s storybook fashion, Google’s Doodles tell the tale of two long-distance pangolins who have been struck by Cupid’s arrows. Separated by distance, these lovable characters take to writing love letters to each other, before actually meeting in person and journeying with each other across the globe.
As we get closer and closer to this year's Valentine’s Day, the Doodles highlight the pangolins’ visit to exotic locales, such as Ghana. There they meet a friend, who teaches the fine art of making a chocolate cake. “After all, everyone knows the way to a pangolin’s heart is through its stomach!” as was noted in Google’s blog.
Out-Doodling themselves . . .
According to CNET, this series is one of the most in-depth Doodles to date, where it took a team of six animators and engineers about a year to create.
"If they're endangered, they really have to meet," Helene Leroux, the head artist for the Doodle, said during an interview with CNET. "So it was a perfect theme for Valentine's Day."
You can help . . .
In 2016, a treaty of over 180 governments announced an agreement that would end all legal trade of the endangered animal to further protect them from extinction. However, illegal trade still happens, and we need to be vigilant about shedding light on this horrendous practice.
WWF [World Wildlife Foundation] is leading the charge to protect the mammal by using thermal imagery to track poachers within pangolin habitats, which was made possible by a grant from Google.org.
You can also help protect the pangolins by adopting one, donating and/or purchasing pangolin themed merchandise here. And Happy Valentine's Day to the world's pangolins, and all the animal advocates who are happy that Google found a way to doodle them into our hearts!