A 5-year-old from the Charlotte area is getting national attention for his one-boy campaign to save an animal that is not only ugly, but one that most people have never heard of — the pangolin.
They’re highly endangered, in case you didn’t know.
Landon Knestrick of Indian Trail learned of their plight watching the PBS Kids TV show “Wild Kratz” and has since become somewhat of an expert on the topic, despite struggling to pronounce some of the words he reads.
The story of his “Save the Pangolin” campaign is featured in a PBS Kids’ commercial, which cites Landon as an example of kids having an impact. The minute-long segment is airing nationally and features his parents, Christina and Nathan Knestrick.
His parents admit they were at first a little bewildered.
“We thought he was saying penguins, when actually he was saying pangolin,” his mom, Christina Huntzinger Knestrick, says in the PBS commercial.
“He said: ‘The Wild Kratz told me that the more people that know about them, the higher chance they have of survival’...He wanted us to text everyone we knew to tell them all about the pangolin.”
Landon told Observer news partner WBTV that his parents aren’t the only ones who have lived in ignorance of the pangolin.
“They will be instinct (which is Landon’s word for ‘extinct’) before anybody will know about them,” he told WBTV.
Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked mammal, due to a high demand in Asian countries for their scales and meat, which is considered delicacy, reports the African Wildlife Foundation. They live throughout Southern, Central, and East Africa.
They’re about the size of a beaver, eat ants and are covered in scales. They roll up in a ball when threatened, which is a big reason Landon thinks their cool.
He has already taken his campaign to school with him, educating three classes on the endangered pangolin, his mom said on the PBS commercial. He is also doing his own fundraising for the cause, making and selling Christmas ornaments. His mom told PBS that effort got started when a local farmer had a crafts show and offered to let small children have their own “junior entrepreneur table.”
Landon raised more than $400, according to radio station K104.7, which named the boy one of its “Kids Who Rock” winners this year.
Various interviewers have suggested to Landon that he’s a bit young to be running a campaign, but he doesn’t agree.
“Nobody’s too young to save anything,” he told WBTV.