Porcupine gives birth in front of 'excited visitors' at London Zoo

baby cape porcupine, born to parents Hettie and Henning
Baby cape porcupine, born to parents Hettie and Henning Credit: ZSL London Zoo

A porcupine gave birth in front of excited visitors at London Zoo.

Keepers released the first images on Thursday of the baby cape porcupine – known as a porcupette – who was born to parents Hettie and Henning on March 25.

The youngster, whose sex has not been determined, has been named Hershey.

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.”

The porcupette has been named Hershey Credit: ZSL London Zoo

"All the porcupines in the family have names starting with the letter ‘H’ – Hershey joins Hettie, Henning and seven-month-old sibling Herbie,”" Ms Heldt said.

"The whole family have spent the last month doting on the new arrival, which has made it tricky to get a clear picture of the little one on its own – but we were pleased to finally get these snaps this week, while Hettie and Hershey enjoyed some precious mother/baby time."

Native to central and southern Africa, cape porcupines are the largest species of porcupine.

They weight around 350g at birth but as adults can grow to up to 15kg.

Hershey’s sex will be determined via DNA testing to one of its quills.