Belfast Telegraph

Zoo takes on a few new prickly customers

By Adrian Rutherford

Belfast Zoo has welcomed some new spiky residents - with 11 Cape porcupines now in situ.

They have arrived from a zoo in Spain that recently closed.

Cape porcupines are the largest rodents in Africa and are found across southern and central Africa, southern Kenya, Uganda and the Congo.

Zoo manager Alyn Cairns said: "All 11 porcupines arrived in June and have since settled in well.

"Keepers are getting to know the group and are already seeing distinct personalities.

"Once the team get to know all of the porcupines, they will be able to pick fitting names for the latest members of the zoo family."

The zoo was previously home to two Cape porcupines, but they passed away from old age.

Porcupines are not facing immediate danger in the wild. However, threats are increasing through hunting and loss of habitat.

These are not the only prickly creatures to have sought refuge at Belfast Zoo recently, with two rescued hedgehogs having also arrived.

Both had suffered damage to their eyes and required intensive care but, after rehabilitation, the pair will now live in an area with Belfast Zoo's native barn owls.

Mr Cairns added: "The aim of Belfast Zoo is to conserve species which are under increasing threats in their natural habitat, to educate our visitors about the wonders of wildlife and to play a pivotal role in animal welfare."

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