The ground pangolin stopped in the long, swaying grass of the African veld, and turned to face a visiting reporter who had just asked him if he was aware that a virus that appears to have originated in his species has infected tens of thousands of humans, and may yet infect countless more.
“Oh yes,” he said, scratching his long nose in what is generally considered to be the universal pangolin signal that it would like some space, “And there’s a lot more where that came from if you and the rest of your horde of hairless planet destroyers don’t leave us, and all of the other animals: The fuck. Alone.”
Prized for being trapped on this planet with us, pangolins are like all creatures that have come into direct contact with human beings: Immediately and horribly exploited.
Researchers say they wouldn’t test the armoured mammals.
“Or eat them. It really isn’t worth it,” says Dr. Haffa Napal, at the Kenyan Center For Not Devouring Everything You Voracious Psychopaths.
“Apart from the possibility of contracting an exotic disease, when thinking about chewing a pangolin you have to ask yourself, really? The first clue that these guys probably don’t want to be consumed is that they are covered in hundreds of tiny shields. Which sort of screams, ‘Find something else to eat. Have you tried the cassava?'”
Equipped with a tongue that is longer than its body, the pangolin is considered especially well-suited to spreading diseases that will make the entire human race wish they’d listened to Joaquin Phoenix, and become vegans while they had the chance.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the pangolin said that he’d prefer to not go into the specifics of the diseases his species stands ready to unleash on a particular predator. One with a penchant for cruise ships and living in extremely close proximity to one another.
“But let’s just say they’ll make that relatively benign respiratory disease that you are all hopelessly trying to quarantine right now look like a sniffle. You think coronavirus is bad? Wait until you find out about Pangola.”