Mum of the Year? Whipsnade Zoo's porcupine hailed for giving birth for the second time in six months

Cuteness overload as baby porcupine is born at Whipsnade Zoo

A porcupine family at the UK’s largest zoo has grown from three to four, with a spiky new baby joining the prickle.

Mum Kimya gave birth to the baby, known as a porcupette, in the early hours of 13 February at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.

Zookeepers will not know whether it is male or female until its first health check with the veterinary team so in the meantime they have named the three-week-old Dakari - meaning "rejoice" in Zimbabwean.  

Porcupines are pregnant for 94 days, and this is Kimya’s second baby to be born in six months, with her last infant Oti, arriving in August 2023. 

Dakiri, a Cape Porcupine has been born at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire. Credit: Whipsnade Zoo ZSL

Zookeeper Felicity Ball said: “Kimya should be awarded Mother of the Year, not only has she been caring for her six-month-old Oti, but she also now has a tiny new baby to care for as well. Thankfully their dad, Winga, has been helping with the young,” she said.  

In the wild Cape porcupines (Hysteix africaeauastralis) often live solitarily, before coming together to breed and rear their young, remaining monogamous for life.  

While porcupettes do have quills when they’re born, luckily for Kimya they are soft at birth and but become hard and prickly a couple of hours after the baby is born.

Ms Ball added: “It was an incredible surprise for the team to see Dakari curled up next to Mum, Dad and their older sibling Oti the next day. 

“While Oti is quite shy, Dakari is very confident, pottering around the family's cosy indoor den following Mum everywhere she goes."

Cape porcupines are nocturnal rodents, native to central and southern Africa.

They are the largest of all the porcupine species and Africa’s second-largest rodent.   

Ms Ball said: “The Cape porcupines usually venture out when the sun starts to set, but thankfully our night vision cameras help us to monitor the prickle – the collective term for a group of porcupines – when we’re not on the ground”, she said.   

As expert foragers and diggers, Cape porcupines are considered "ecosystem engineers", however increasingly they are facing threats of habitat destruction and hunting.

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