Students get first hand ‘zoo practices’ experience when introducing porcupines

Animal Management’s  two groups of African Crested Porcupines have finally met!

With the assistance from FDSc Animal Behaviour and Welfare and FDSc Zoo Management second year students, the porcupines went through a lengthy eight week introduction process. Student supported with; helping to train the animals to load into a crate, moving the females into an enclosure next to the males and working week by week to acclimatise both sexes to each other. This gave students invaluable hands-on experience of the introduction process. The culmination of the introduction process occurred on Monday 25th November, when the porcupines finally met face to face.

The college has housed two male porcupines at the animal centre for the past seven years, since they arrived from West Midlands Safari Park. Whilst the two female porcupines have been at the college three years, brought from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust; Jersey Zoo. The two sexes have been kept separate to allow the females to mature before a possible breeding programme can take place.

As well as gaining valuable experience of a task that happens routinely in zoo collections, the students also collected data during the whole process working towards a research task. When the data has been collated it can hopefully be published and used in other zoo collections to assist with captive porcupine husbandry.

Being a social species, the porcupines have now formed a small group. All four can be seen feeding, resting, and sleeping under their heat lamp together. However, being a large, quilled rodent the students had to observe all health and safety requirements when working with a potentially dangerous animal.

The introduction process has gone very well. The porcupines have created a small social group and two groups of students have gained some valuable practical experience and work skills.

Lisa Boardman

Porcupine Keeper