Published On: Sun, Feb 27th, 2022

Three African Porcupettes Are Born at Palm Beach Zoo

For fans of baby animals, Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth is getting right to the point!

The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society recently announced the arrival of of the Zoo’s newest residents. Cleo the African crested porcupine gave birth to three baby porcupines, or “porcupettes,” in the early hours of February 3, 2022.

The three babies are healthy, with two of the littermates spending time with mom and dad, Priscilla, in their outfitted night house to give the new family private bonding time together out of public view for now. The third porcupette was born significantly smaller than the rest. The youngest did well in the family unit for the first several days, however, on day seven s/he was showing signs of being antagonized by its siblings.

In the wild world, having a “runt” of a litter is not uncommon. Unfortunately, a weaker newborn is much less likely to survive in nature.

At Palm Beach Zoo, the runt gets a second chance. Palm Beach Zoo’s animal care team is prepared for such situations and made the necessary decision to intervene. S/he is being hand-raised by animal experts with the hopes of being reintroduced to its family when the time is right.

Cleo arrived at the Zoo in May of 2021 from San Diego Wildlife Alliance (formerly San Diego Zoo) as a potential mate for long-time resident Priscilla, a male porcupine.

The Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for African crested porcupines is led by a group of Association of Zoos and Aquariums professionals and population scientists who track and match genetics for animals in managed care. The team deemed the two a genetic match, and the rest was up to the porcupine pair and nature. The team of zoologists that care for the pair was thrilled to see evidence of a love match after several months. From that point on, “baby watch” began.

Crested porcupines live in pairs and stick together throughout their lifetime. They can live to their late teens and even into their 20’s, raising babies every year or so. Often, a few generations live together in a group until they find their own mates. “The plan for all our Zoo animals is to provide them with their appropriate social groupings, so we are thrilled Pricilla and Cleo are living a happy porcupine life,” said Palm Beach Zoo President and CEO Margo McKnight.

Cleo is an experienced mother who cared for multiple litters at her previous home, and Priscilla is a first-time dad. According to General Curator Mike Terrell, “He is settling into the role well. He is curious, excited and slightly overwhelmed. In other words – Priscilla is having a normal first-time dad reaction!”

African crested porcupines co-parent their young, and Cleo and Priscilla are divvying up the responsibilities appropriately.

McKnight continued, “African crested porcupines clearly evolved by getting big (they are the largest by far of any porcupine) and prickly to survive in an environment replete with powerful predators such as lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild dogs.

Several studies in South Africa show these porcupines have an important role as ‘ecological-engineers’ tilling soils and selectively choosing the vegetation to eat, which in turn promotes great biodiversity (compared to areas where they were hunted out).”

The sexes of the porcupettes are unknown at this point and will be announced at a later date. Check the social media channels @PalmBeachZoo for updates!

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. Commissioner Weinroth serves as County Vice-Mayor and has been appointed Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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