Nale and Elan, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Porcupines, are first-time parents! Nale (nah'-lay) gave birth to a porcupette, or baby Porcupine, on May 8. The baby was born weighing a little over a pound and appears healthy. Zoo veterinarians will not be able to determine if it's a boy or a girl for approximately 30 days, at which time Zoo staff will name the newest Porcupine addition.
"Porcupettes are born with their quills - they are soft when they are first born but harden quickly," Roxanna Breitigan, Animal Care Manager, said. "They are also precocious from the start. Nale's porcupette is active and crawling around the exhibit."
Nale joined the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo family at the end of June 2012, and Elan was smitten with her right away.
"He started courting her almost immediately," Breitigan said.
Porcupines typically breed in the fall and their gestation is seven months long. Zoo staff started looking for signs of delivery starting on May 4 - Nale's first possible due date.
One of the keepers knew something was up when Nale’s behavior changed one morning. "She noticed right away that Nale didn't eat on Wednesday morning, wasn't climbing any trees (Nale is an expert climber, so that was very unusual for her) and was stretching a lot. [She] kept a watchful eye and was there when the baby was born," Breitigan said.
In the wild, males don't usually have a role in raising their young, but Elan is being a good dad. He is curious, interested, remains calm and keeps a watchful eye on his family from his favorite branch.