The three porcupettes born at Palm Beach Zoo.
Photo by Palm Beach Zoo
The Palm Beach Zoo got a spiky surprise when new resident Cleo, an African crested porcupine who moved from San Diego in May 2021, gave birth to three baby porcupines, or porcupettes, in February.
Cleo arrived from San Diego Wildlife Alliance (formerly the San Diego Zoo) as a potential mate for longtime male resident Priscilla.
The Species Survival Plan for African crested porcupines is led by a group of Association of Zoos and Aquariums professionals and population scientists who track and match genetics for animals in managed care. The team found the two porcupines to be a genetic match, and, after a few months, evidence indicated that they were also a love match.
“The plan for all our zoo animals is to provide them with their appropriate social groupings, so we are thrilled Pricilla and Cleo are living a happy porcupine life,” Palm Beach Zoo President and CEO Margo McKnight said.
The three babies are healthy. Two spend time with their mom and dad in their private night house. The third porcupette was born significantly smaller than the others and was showing signs of being antagonized by its siblings for being the runt of the litter, a common situation in the wild. The care team is hand-raising the third porcupette until it can be reintroduced to its family.
Crested porcupines live in pairs and often stay together for life. They can live about 20 years and usually have a litter every year or so.
Cleo is an experienced mother who has cared for multiple litters. Priscilla is a first-time dad. General curator Mike Terrell said: “He is settling into the role well. He is curious, excited and slightly overwhelmed. In other words, Priscilla is having a normal first-time dad reaction!”