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Pick a name for this pangolin: Pemalu, Bảo, Percival, Sandshrew or Lance

By John D. Sutter, CNN
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Mon April 7, 2014
Vote on a new name for this shy pangolin, currently called P26.
Vote on a new name for this shy pangolin, currently called P26.
  • Vote below to rename this pangolin, who is currently called P26
  • John Sutter says P26 is no name for such an interesting animal
  • The pangolin is a scale-covered mammal that's illegally trafficked by the ton
  • It's thought to be the most trafficked mammal in the world

Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion and creator of CNN's Change the List project. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. E-mail him at The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Meet P26 -- a shy pangolin who recently was released into a national park in Vietnam after being seized from the illegal pangolin trade. Pangolins are thought to be the most trafficked mammals in the world, which made them the subject of a recent series for CNN's Change the List project. They're traded by the ton.

The fine people who are taking care of P26 -- from the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program -- agreed to let CNN's readers do something kind of cool: We're going to vote on a new name for this little guy, and then follow his journey.

I asked readers to submit some name ideas.

The top five you suggested were: Pemalu, Bao, Percival, Sandshrew and Lance.

UPDATE: Voting closed on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET.

P26 will take on whichever name readers select.

Some of the names require a little explanation. Pemalu is Indonesian for "shy," which fits since researchers at the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program tell me P26 is one of the shyest of all the introverted pangolins they've encountered.

Bảo is Vietnamese for "protection," which is nice because pangolins sure need it.

Percival is alliterative and kinda fun in an old-timey way. (Pangolins have been called little dinosaurs, after all; I picture Percival the Pangolin wearing a monocle and a top hat.)

Sandshrew is my least favorite of the bunch, but it's a Pokemon character that does bear a striking resemblance.

And Lance, according to the commenter who suggested that, is short for "Lancelot," "because his body looks like a suit of armor and he's valiantly fighting to survive." So there you go -- five names, five stories.

You can read up on P26 on this blog from the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program. P26 is so terribly shy that when researchers released him he just sat there in a box for hours, unsure of where to go or what to do. He burrowed beneath one tree, then another, with researchers following his moves with a radio-tracking device attached to his tail (you can see it in the image above). At one point, he moved so little that it sounds like the researchers -- or at least some blog readers -- doubted that he was alive.

"For any of you still not convinced he is alive this morning, with my head stuck right into a tree hollow, I saw the element of the transmitter," wrote Louise Fletcher, one of the researchers, on March 29. "I tried to give it a little pull to see if it was attached to a body or not (we couldn't actually see him). However, before I had the chance the element started moving of its own accord and we heard some movement.

"The transmitter is certainly still attached to P26 and P26 is still alive!"

Alive and in need of a better name.

But that's where you come in.

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