News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org

March 29, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOTE: Scroll to end of press release to download photos of porcupette.

 
Brookfield Zoo Welcomes a Porcupette
 

Brookfield, Ill. – The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, welcomed a new addition—a porcupette (baby porcupine) who was born on March 19. The newborn is being hand-reared by animal care staff after it was observed the porcupette’s mom, 9-year-old Lucia, was not providing her offspring proper maternal care.

The unsexed baby porcupine is thriving and being cared for around the clock by the animal care specialists. Currently, the porcupette is fed a formula, which was developed by CZS’s director of nutrition. As the baby develops, times between each feeding will increase until it is weaned at around 10 weeks old. Once weaned, staff will begin introducing the young porcupine to a diet consisting of a variety of vegetables, including sweet potato, green beans, corn, carrots, spinach, and kale, as well as a nutrient-based biscuit, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

At birth, a porcupette weighs just under a pound and  is born with soft and bendable quills that protect the mom during the birthing process. After a few days, the quills harden with keratin—the same substance found in hair and fingernails—giving them their sharpness. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with a rusty-colored coat that helps them blend in with their environment. Similar to a deer fawn, a porcupette hides and waits for its mother to come to it for nursing.

Prehensile-tailed porcupines are found throughout much of South America, including in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Trinidad, and northern Argentina, and live in high-elevation rain forests. Thought to be similar to North American porcupines, prehensile-tailed porcupines tend to have individual territories—females have exclusive ones, but males often have territories that overlap and may vary widely in size.

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. 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 a porcupine shakes, loose quills come out.

Both Lucia and the porcupette’s dad, 8-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.

 
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Photo Captions—credit Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo
3903, 9673, and 3809: A porcupette (baby porcupine) was born at Brookfield Zoo on March 19.
 
3866, 3922, and 3930: Maggie Chardell, a lead animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society, with a porcupette (baby porcupine). Staff is hand-rearing the porcupette, who was born at Brookfield Zoo on March 19, because its mom was not providing proper maternal care.


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. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and 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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