London Zoo releases first images of baby porcupine born in front of visitors


eepers at ZSL London Zoo have released images of an adorable baby porcupine, known as a porcupette, which was born in front of excited visitors at the Zoo last month.

Visitors were treated to an unexpected surprise when the mother, Hettie, left her den to give birth to Hershey outside in front of an amazed audience.

Zookeeper Veronica Heldt said: “It was totally up to Hettie where she gave birth, and this time – her second baby in seven months – she decided to leave her cosy indoor dens and share the wonders of porcupine childbirth with our excited visitors.

“We answered a lot of not-so-subtle questions about porcupine quills – they’re soft at birth before quickly hardening, so Hettie’s labour was not as painful as some watching mothers were imagining!”

Porcupine quills are soft at birth but harden shortly thereafter

/ ZSL London Zoo

Heldt said Hettie gave birth to her last porcupette, Herbie, inside her den but had decided to introduce Hershey to the world more quickly.

She also explained that Hershey’s family all have names beginning with the letter ‘H’ – mother Hettie, father Henning, and seven-month-old sibling Herbie.

The whole family doted on the new arrival, which had made it difficult for keepers to capture a photograph of the little one on its own.

Porcupines can live up to 20 years in captivity and form lifelong monogamous pairs, raising their young together.

Hershey is a cape porcupine, which are native to central and southern Africa, and are solitary or found in small family groups.

Zookeepers struggled to capture a photograph of the baby porcupine on its own

/ ZSL London Zoo

They live on a diet largely composed of fruit and roots.

They are the largest of all the porcupine species, weighing in at 15kg as an adult, compared to a tiny 350g at birth – approximately the weight of a can of soda.

Litters can range from one to four, the average being two, with female porcupines able to give birth once or twice a year.

Keepers will discover Hershey’s sex after its first health check, when one of its quills will be sent for DNA testing.

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