Thursday, August 22, 2013

Checking in on Gavin the porcupine

Posted by: Caileigh Robertson, Communications
Photos by: Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo


Visitors catch a glimpse of Gavin in the zoo's Raptor Yard.

Gavin, our youngest porcupine, is stretching his legs and catching some rays in a spacious zoo yard, giving guests an up-close visit with—quite possibly—our cutest quilled creature.

Gavin on the run in the Raptor Yard. 

While Gavin’s parents, Molly and Oliver, occupy the Northern Trail porcupine exhibit, Gavin takes to the zoo’s Raptor Center yard on weekdays for regular exercise and explorations under the supervision of zookeepers and staff. His visits to the Raptor Center yard are not formally scheduled, but you might catch a closer look at the pint-sized porcupine during your afternoon visits to the zoo!

Notice the thick gloves required when holding Gavin and his quills.

At 2 months of age, keepers began to notice a decrease in his weight, which for a young growing porcupine is a cause for concern. Upon examination it was discovered that Molly wasn’t producing as much milk as Gavin needed. The young North American porcupine went through a series of tests, including a CT scan, in search of any other concerns that may have been contributing to his weight loss and development but nothing significant was found. Soon Gavin stopped nursing from his mother, Molly. Without the nutrients he needed from his mother and no observations of him regularly eating solid foods, Gavin was separated from Molly for supplemental feedings to guarantee a hearty diet and positive weight gain. With progress, Gavin has begun eating a solid diet and now lives on his own.

After a good run all around the Raptor Yard, Gavin is escorted back to his behind-the-scenes exhibit.

Stroll past the Raptor Center yard during your zoo visit and keep an eye out for something small, black and covered in quills. If you’re lucky, you might spot Gavin on his next afternoon exploration.

And that's why you wear protective layers around a porcupine.

Don’t miss out on news on Gavin and the zoo’s many, many babies!

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for this update on Gavin! Is there a reason why he can't be with his parents? Will be be out in the raptor exhibit on the weekends? I really want to meet this little fella.

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    1. When Gavin had to be separated from mom so that keepers could provide more hands-on care, the parents were reintroduced to each other on exhibit. Gavin is weaned, independent, and would naturally be ready to move on from mom's care at this point, so introducing him to both of his parents at this stage wouldn't quite fit with their typical life cycle. His exercise jaunts are weekday only so far, but if times change or become more regular, we'll post an update!

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  2. What is the Zoo doing so Gavin won't be lonely? Any chance that he'll be out on Labor Day? (The little fella has capatured my heart, can you tell?)

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    1. Though he gets plenty of quality time with keepers, Gavin is at a stage in his growth now where he is independent. Porcupines are naturally solitary animals once they grow independent of their mothers.

      There's no set schedule for Gavin's yard runs since it depends so much on his interest level and cooperation. No guarantee he'll be out on Labor Day, though it's worth a try if you can't make other weekday visits.

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  3. Do we have a current weight and approximate size (say, compared to a loaf of bread) on Gavin? I can't wait to see him!

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    1. Today, his weight is about 6 and a half pounds. He is right on track for a porcupine his age. He is about as long as a loaf of sandwich bread but more, shall we say, round? :-)

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