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Summer is in Full Swing,
as the Zoo Welcomes New Babies

Prehensile tailed porcupine, Bristle
Prehensile tailed porcupine, Bristle, was hand-raised by animal care staff.

Posted June 2021

June is jumping at the Zoo with three new animal births!  In the Small Mammals building (which recently re-opened with limited capacity): a bushbaby (also known as a mohol galago) was born April 4; a prehensile tailed porcupine was born May 11; and in the Monkey Island habitat, a Japanese macaque was born May 15.

Bushbaby Grogu
A bushbaby, born April 4, recently ate a bug from its keeper’s hand.

The South African bushbaby is a species of primate, born to mother Kirby, and dad Keanu.  This marks the second offspring for the pair.  (The first baby, a female named Grogu, was born in November 2020; the species’ gestation period is between 120-146 days.) Kirby is taking good care of the baby just as she did with Grogu.  Keepers comment that the baby follows Grogu around the habitat, and similarly, Grogu follows the new baby around!  The baby’s gender hasn’t been determined, as it’s still quite small.  Its most recent milestone was taking a bug to eat from a keeper’s hand! For a current weight, keepers are training with the baby, placing a bug on a scale, encouraging it to hop on, and recording the weight.

In Small Mammals, the bushbabies live in a mixed species exhibit which includes a potto and a springhaas.  Keanu is currently off exhibit, as Kirby wasn’t tolerating him so well after the second baby was born. However, he’s living in an adjacent habitat with the potto and springhaas, and can see and smell the other bushbabies through a mesh panel. Mom resides with the two offspring.

Young bushbabies are born furred and have open eyes at birth. Babies can cling to branches within the first day and begin walking within a few days.  The keepers are no longer observing the baby nursing from mom, unless it’s occurring in an enrichment tube which cannot be seen through. It’s growing and progressing well and eating bugs, greens, and fruits and vegetables.

Also in the Small Mammals building, a prehensile tailed porcupine was born May 11 to mom Quinn, and dad Seamus (Shay-muss), marking a first-time birth for the pair. Animal care staff are quite sure the baby is a female and have named her Bristle.

Keepers occasionally observed the baby coming up to mom to nurse, but she didn’t attach and nurse for an adequate amount of time, so at day five, she was taken off exhibit for hand-raising.  Hand-raising involved tending to the baby and monitoring her closely 24/7, keeping her in an incubator when the parents were asleep, and feeding her formula (similar to puppy and kitten formula) every three hours. During hand-raising, Bristle was always with Quinn and Seamus during the day. The formula was given through a syringe with a nipple attached for easy swallowing, allowing Bristle to eat at her own pace. Now back in the habitat, keepers are syringe-feeding her six times daily and she’s doing well.

Keepers say that from the day Bristle was born, she was “amazing,” walking around the habitat, appearing very healthy, and was able to take care of herself. She even climbed a tree in her habitat at 1 day old!  At birth, Bristle weighed 490 grams, and at 27 days, she weighed 894 grams. She enjoys belly rubs from keepers and is very “spunky, sassy and animated.”

At 20 days old, she started to crawl up and down a stick, holding it with her prehensile tail, chewing on bark and eating solid foods. Quinn and Seamus continue to be interested in her and can be seen occasionally sniffing and clutching her face.  She likes to crawl around in her habitat, is very active and able to climb every level of the exhibit propping.

Bristle’s diet includes soaked rodent chow biscuits and a variety of fruits and vegetables including carrots and green beans.  Keepers give her a sampling of different foods to determine what she enjoys most.

In the wild, prehensile porcupines live in South American forests of Venezuela, Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Trinidad and some extreme northern sections of Argentina.  They are excellent climbers and spend most of their time in trees.  This species doesn’t hesitate to attack an adversary, which it does by biting and/or sitting on its haunches to shake its quills.

Japanese macaques
Japanese macaque, Kumo, shown here with mother, Negai.

In the Zoo’s Monkey Island habitat, a male Japanese macaque was born to mom Negai, and dad Kota, both of whom have had offspring in the past.  The baby is named Kumo, the Japanese word for “cloud.” Kumo is the third offspring for Negai. She is also the mother of males Daisuki (born in 2019) and Kaishi (born in 2016).

Negai is a very protective mother and is nursing the baby well.  The baby is developing normally and has even begun venturing away from Negai from time to time.

Japanese macaques are the northernmost living non-human primate.  No other non-human primate lives in a colder climate.  Macaque populations are stable in the wild, and an estimated 100,000 macaques currently live throughout Japan.


Video – Milwaukee County Zoo babies: Japanese macaque Kumo, prehensile-tailed porcupine Bristle and bushbaby Grogu

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