In the run-up to our international day of LOOOVE, Google has been running a cute set of its famous “Doodles” on the home page of its search engine. This Google Doodle is not only cute, it is fun, educational, and supports a good cause–preserving wildlife that has nearly been hunted out of extinction.
The creatures in the cartoon are pangolins–the world’s only scaly mammal. Unfortunately, its meat and rare scales have turned the reclusive, nocturnal animal into the most-trafficked species on the planet. There are eight varieties of pangolins, but they range from “vulnerable” to “critically endangered.” There is a global agreement among nations to preserve these unusual mammals, but unfortunately illegal hunting is still a huge threat to the species.
Google is shining a spotlight on pangolins through its Doodles, which turn into interactive games in which a romantically-inclined pangolin travels the world, collecting cocoa beans, musical notes, ribbons for dancing, and flowers to impress his prospective mate. It’s cute, short, and not too hard for someone like me who doesn’t play a lot of video games, so check it out at google.com.
However, that isn’t all Google is doing. It produced a little video to teach people more about the pangolins:
But mostly it is driving traffic to the World Wildlife Fund, which is trying to protect the pangolins. If you want to help and haven’t found the perfect gift for your Valentine, you can symbolically adopt one of the creatures for $25-$100 (you get different things based on the amount).
Finally, Google is also putting its own money in support of this endangered species. Google gave the World Wildlife Fund a grant to use thermal imaging technology to alert rangers when potential poachers are entering the pangolin habitat.
So, Google is giving me the warm fuzzies today, not only for the pangolin, but for the efforts to use technology to educate us about why we should care and to keep the bad guys away from these little guys. I’m feeling the love…how about you?
Note: Cartoon image and video from Google; the photograph of an actual pangolin is from Wikimedia and used under a Creative Commons license.