Adelaide Zoo

Adelaide Zoo welcomes a prickly pair to the wild family

They’re new to the zoo and a little on the prickly side – two Cape Porcupines have arrived at Adelaide Zoo!

Brothers Walter and Winnie are the first ever Cape Porcupines to call Adelaide Zoo home, making the trip from Monarto Safari Park on Thursday 2 May.

Transporting porcupines can be spiky business but fortunately it all went off without a prickle. Keepers carefully guided each porcupine into a special transport crate for their journey, with plenty of encouragement in the form of sweet potato treats.

Born at the park in August 2023, the time had come for the pair to part ways from mum Rita, dad Oliver and older sister Louie. Adelaide Zoo’s Senior Keeper of Ungulates, Elise Maurer, said they are settling into their new home well.

“This was the first time the young porcupines have moved habitats so it was a big day of new sounds and experiences but Walter and Winnie were very calm throughout the trip.

“Winnie is a lot more confident and this showed as they were exiting the crate, Winnie came straight out as soon as the door was opened while Walter took a little longer to build his confidence.

“They explored the new habitat, smelling all of those new scents, before snuggling up together under a heat lamp in the den,” said Elise.

Cape Porcupines are the world’s largest porcupine species and the largest rodent native to Africa. At eight months old the porcupines weigh around 12kg and still have some growing to do before reaching their full size of 27kg.

The species is known for its iconic black and white banded quills, which can grow up to 35cm long! In the wild, these sharp quills offer important protection from predators such as lions and hyenas.

“Cape Porcupines are the ultimate snackers. Their large incisors never stop growing so to wear them down they are constantly chewing and nibbling on crunchy veggies and wood.”

In the African savannah, Cape Porcupines play an important role in the ecosystem and their foraging behaviour helps to aerate the soil for plants.

“Having Cape Porcupines here at Adelaide Zoo will help us educate even more people about this amazing species and inspire visitors to care about protecting their wild cousins.

“They are nocturnal animals so make them your first or last stop on a visit. You won’t want to miss your chance to see the wonderful Walter and Winnie,” finished Elise.

The public can visit the Cape Porcupines next door to the giraffe and Ring-tailed Lemur habitats at Adelaide Zoo. The other three members of the porcupine family can be seen at Monarto Safari Park. Each visit supports Zoos SA’s vital conservation work to save species from extinction.