A baby Palawan porcupine has been born at Prague Zoo. Visitors can observe the two-week-old addition and both of its parents in the zoo’s “Indonesian Jungle” Pavilion. The young is valuable for breeding, as this species endemic to the Philippine island of Palawan is the only non-American porcupine species listed on the Red List of Threatened Species. Hunting and deforestation are the reason for its declining numbers.
“The birth of a cub is great news, because out of only nine zoos that keep this species in Europe, we are one of two where a cub was born this year,” said Prague Zoo’s curator of mammals, Pavel Brandl. “The reason for joy is also the fact that we did not have too high hopes for the birth of another healthy offspring from our older, already deserving female.”
This is the tenth cub of this species born in the zoo since breeding began in 2015. All nine previous cubs were successfully bred, and went on to strengthen or establish breeding programs in other zoos. The current cub also has good prospects – the mother is taking excellent care of him and, according to the breeders, the little rodent has already shown an interest in solid food in addition to his mother’s milk.
The Palawan porcupine inhabits Palawan island in the Philippines and several smaller surrounding islands. The species is found in primary and secondary forests in the mountains and in the lowlands. This species also inhabits caves, but is commonly found under tree buttresses or in rock crevices. It is one of the smallest porcupines in the world; adult animals usually do not weigh more than 5 kg. Its outer covering of spines serves as its protection and defence system.
As an island species with limited occurrence and gene pool, it is unfortunately threatened by hunting and loss of natural habitat. Its numbers are decreasing, according to the IUCN, which is why it is currently classified as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species.