It is not uncommon for births to happen in the Zoo Department. The lambs at the Highland Stables are probably the most well known ones at Busch Gardens, but in the area where I work, it would have to be baby birds. The Rainbow Lorikeets in the Lorikeet Glen aviary pair up and nest. Having baby animals around is always fun, but our most exciting birth happened about a month ago and there’s no way to even begin to describe the cuteness, so here is a picture to prove it:
On the morning of April 17, we found that Athena, one of our African Pygmy Hedgehogs, had given birth. This was a surprise to us all. She had only occasionally been housed with our male, Balozi. Their gestation period only lasts about a month so it happens quickly.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are found throughout central Africa. In the wild they eat mostly insects and can detect them underground with their great sense of smell. Their quills are not poisonous or barbed, but they are still a good deterrent for predators. When a baby hedgehog, or a hoglet, is born the quills are just beneath the skin and emerge within 24 hours.
We decided to name the hoglets Zeus and Apollo, in honor of their mother’s Greek name. They begin weaning at about 45 days old and will be ready to be on their own after that. Hedgehogs are solitary and territorial so males especially do not do well housed together. Soon they will be ready to move into their own separate habitats.