News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org                                                                            
July 10, 2018
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Photo Captions—credit Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society
6705: A baby prehensile-tailed porcupine born at Brookfield Zoo on July 2 is being hand-reared by animal care staff when it became clear that his mom was not providing him proper maternal care, as she was not allowing him to nurse.
 
6706: Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society, bottle feeds a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine born at Brookfield Zoo on July 2. The baby, or porcupette, is being hand-reared when it was evident his mom was not allowing him to nurse.
 
6726, 5671: Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society, is assisting in hand-rearing a baby prehensile-tailed porcupine born at Brookfield Zoo on July 2. After monitoring the baby’s mom, it was evident she was not providing him proper maternal care.
 
6718, 6720, 6746, 5623: A baby prehensile-tailed porcupine was born at Brookfield Zoo on July 2. The baby, called a porcupette, is being hand-reared by animal care staff when it became clear that his mom was not providing him proper maternal care, as she was not allowing him to nurse.
 
4909: Lucia, a 5-year-old prehensile-tailed porcupine at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a porcupette on July 2. After monitoring them for an extended period of time, it became clear that Lucia was not providing her offspring proper maternal care, as she was not allowing him to nurse. At that time, animal care and veterinary staff made the decision to intervene and hand-rear the baby, who is thriving.

Porcupette Born at Brookfield Zoo

            Brookfield, Ill. – The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is getting right to the point and announcing the birth of a porcupette—a baby porcupine—born on July 2. The porcupette is the first of its species, the prehensile-tailed porcupine, to be born at Brookfield Zoo. After monitoring the mother, 5-year-old Lucia, for an extended period of time, it became clear that she was not going to provide her offspring proper maternal care, as she was not allowing him to nurse. At that time, animal care and veterinary staff made the decision to intervene and hand-rear the baby, who is thriving.

Following a gestation of about 203 days, a porcupette, weighing just under a pound, is born with soft quills that protect the mom during the birthing process. After a few days, the quills harden with keratin, which gives them their sharpness. Baby porcupines are relatively mature and mobile immediately following birth. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with a rusty-colored coat that helps them blend in with their environment. Similar to a young deer fawn, a porcupette hides and waits for its mother to come to it for nursing. The baby will continue to nurse until it is weaned at approximately 10 weeks of age.

Both Lucia and the porcupette’s dad, 4-year-old Eddie, are members of Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program and can be seen in Hamill Family Play Zoo. Once the young porcupine is weaned from the bottle, he will also be a part of this program, which offers guests the opportunity to have up-close experiences with many of the animals.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are native to South America and live in high-elevation rain forests. Their long tail is used to wrap around branches while climbing. Regardless of what some might think, porcupines do not shoot their quills, which are just modified hairs made out of the same substance found in human hair and fingernails. Porcupines have muscles at the base of each quill that allow the quills to stand up when the animal is excited or alarmed. Like all hairs, quills do shed, and when the porcupines shake, loose quills come out. The ends of prehensile-tailed porcupines’ quills have a small barb (like a fish hook) that snags the flesh, keeping the quill stuck.
 
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.
 
 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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