Paw Patrol! British dog duo to protect endangered Thai pangolins

Dominic Lipinski/ZSL/Cover Images

Two canines fighting the illegal wildlife trade met their new conservation colleagues at ZSL's London Zoo headquarters on Wednesday.

Buster and Bess are preparing to join the conservation charity's team of experts protecting the Critically Endangered pangolin in Thailand.

The pangolin-saving Labradors recently graduated from a training programme with the Metropolitan Police and will fly to Thailand in April to officially become part of the ZSL team - working alongside conservationists and law enforcement.

"Not all heroes wear capes: some walk on all fours and have extremely powerful noses," explained ZSL Pangolin Technical Specialist Georgina Gerard. "Protecting species is a core priority for ZSL, so we were excited to welcome Buster and Bess to ZSL headquarters today, to meet some of their new colleagues and showcase their newfound skills - before they jet off to start their new life sniffing out wildlife crime and protecting pangolins."

During their visit to ZSL's conservation zoo, Buster and Bess, who passed their police dog sniffer training with flying colours, shook paws with Georgina and ZSL Thailand Country Manager, May Moe Wah. They also showed off their expert detection skills, visited the iconic zoo's Humboldt penguin colony, and were presented with cuddly pangolin plushies from the zoo's range of fundraising soft toys.

The new paw enforcement partners will complete their training in Thailand, where the scents they've been training with will be mixed with pangolin scales until they come to associate the two - and then learn to recognise the scent of vulnerable pangolins alone.

Once up to speed, Buster and Bess will work with expert handlers from the local community - sniffing out live pangolins being smuggled through airports, ports, and roads, so that they can be rescued and released back into the wild.