MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new animal species is now living at Memphis Zoo.
Three white-bellied tree pangolins are living in the Animals of the Night building.
White-bellied tree pangolins are endangered species that are found in West Africa and have been hunted to near extinction because of their valuable scales and meat.
Memphis Zoo partnered with five other American zoos and the Pangolin Conservation Organization to activate a conservation plan and secure the future of pangolins around the world.
"Memphis Zoo is dedicated to preserving wildlife and we're happy to be working with the Pangolin Conservation Organization and other U.S. zoos to ensure the survival of these amazing animals," said Matt Thompson, director of animal programs at Memphis Zoo. "We will be able to provide valuable research and develop techniques that provide insight into the behavior of this species which, we hope, will help with future conservation efforts."
Memphis Zoo is only the third American zoo to have pangolins on exhibit. Los Angeles Zoo and San Diego Zoo also had pangolins on exhibit in the past.
Memphis Zoo officials said its pangolins are still adjusting to their new home. They want to make sure the animals are comfortable before they allow zoo visitors to see them.
Memphis Zoo hopes to have the animals on display by the end of May, but if needed, zoo keepers may change that time frame to better suit the pangolins needs.