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Jessi reveals the name of the new porcupine and also shares the story of how she came to call Animal Wonders her home.

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Welcome to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and this is who I've been spending the last couple weeks with.  She's feisty, well, not right now, she's tired, but she's also hilarious.  She's super duper cute and I'm totally in love.


She's a baby African crested porcupine and we just got her last month.  Click up there if you want to see her video debut when she was even smaller than this.  For some reason, she was really hard to name, so we asked for help and you responded with so many great names.  We tried a bunch of your suggestions, we kinda took 'em for a test drive for a day, and we finally found one that stuck.  Everyone, I'm officially introducing you to Kizmit.  

Kizzie has already had some big adventures in her short life.  I'd like to share how she came to be at Animal Wonders and it's kind of a look behind the scenes and it's kinda long-winded.  Kizmit was born at a zoological conservatory in Texas.  They house many displaced exotic animals and they care for them very well.  They allow some of their animals to naturally cohabitate with males and females of the same species, meaning they occasionally have babies.  They make sure every one of their babies is sent to a well-vetted and approved animal facility.

This is where we sent one of our male batong joeys when he matured enough to need a mate.  Dundee, who you can see in this video right here, is doing amazing with his female friend April.  They've had two joeys since they've been introduced and I'm still so thrilled that I found him such a good home.

When we were asked if we could take in a baby African crested porcupine, I didn't immediately say yes.  Many of you have asked how we decide who we take in and who know we just can't care for.  Well, it's different for each case, so I'll just go over how I decided for Kizmit.  I asked myself a couple questions.  First, can I house her properly?  I asked everyone I knew who had cared for these guys before and determined that we did indeed have enough space once our expansion was complete and we could keep the space warm enough for this African lady, but there was possibly a hiccup.  The space was already housing another species, a Patagonian cavy.  

So my next question was, could they live together?  The answer I heard the most was, probably, if they were raised together from a young age.  Well, Chili Pepper, our Patagonian cavy, is five years old, but he adores every animal he meets, so really, it just mattered if Kizzie would accept him and she's still real young, so it was likely.

My next question was, could we afford to feed her?  The  most difficult parts of caring for a new animal is housing and food, but if their diet consists of food we already have, then it makes it a lot less difficult.  Kizmit eats the same diet as Kemosabe, our other porcupine, so that's easy.  We don't have to make any specialized orders just for her.  

Now, on to the educational part of our mission.   Could she be an ambassador and would she be good for our programs?  Again, I asked my contacts and they unanimously agreed that if raised from a young age, baby African crested porcupines can be calm and accepting of audiences and traveling to new places.  As far as her being part of our educational program, I'm happy sharing all the amazing things about cockroaches and leopard geckos to pigeons and guinea pigs.  Any species is exciting and interesting if looked at and presented in the right way.

From a clinical perspective, an African crested porcupine would be an amazing ambassador for large school assemblies or venues where they need a large, calm animal for the audience, like senior homes or special needs organizations, and overall, we don't have very many large, calm animals. 

So far, all of my preliminary questions determined that we could take her in, but I had two last questions and those were, can I give her enough of my time and do I personally want to care for her?  These are the hardest two questions.  Because we're such a small organization and ultimately all the animals' care falls to me, I have to be absolutely sure that I can manage their well-being for the rest of their life.  

So we accepted their offer and made plans to take her in.  I got approval from our state agency to add her to our permit.  She got a health exam and we booked a flight.  A few weeks later, she was on her way.  When she arrived, I was happy that she made it safe and sound, until I realized that she was lethargic and not as hungry as she should be after a long flight.

I rushed her back to Animal Wonders and immediately put her under our heat lamp and began getting fluids in her however I could.  Unfortunately, she was unresponsive and in a really rough place.  After a full night of fluids and heat, she began holding her head up and accepting a little formula from her bottle.  She was  seen by our vet, who confirmed that hypothermia had occurred.  During her flight, she was not kept at the temperature that we were expecting, and she got too cold.  After a few days of intensive care, she was walking again and she was eating a lot better.    A round of antibiotics, eye drops, and continuous hand-feeding later and she was back to her bright and spunky self.  

It's so important to remember how fragile some of these animals can be.  They're incredibly hardy in their own natural habitats where adaptations have made them perfectly suited to their own harsh environments, but when cold is not in the mix, we have to be extra careful to keep them warm. 

Kizzie is sleepy right now, but she's growing strong and we're in the process of introducing her to Chili Pepper, our Patagonian cavy.  So far, Chili Pepper loves her, but Kizzie is more interested in playing and bounces around showing off her quills.  We're also working with the guinea pigs who pretty much leave her alone, except for Pickles.  He's a little bit territorial of the newcomer, so it's going to be a process, but it'll all work out in the end.  

I hope that by sharing how Kizzie came to be at Animal Wonders, we're giving you a better understanding of what might go into accepting a new animal.  Sometimes the transition is easy, sometimes it's not, and sometimes it's a bit of both.  Kizmit is doing amazing now and she fits right into the hustle and bustle of life at Animal Wonders.  It's almost like destiny that she's here.

If you'd like to go on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel AnimalWondersMontana, where you can learn amazing things about animals, how we care for ours, and how you can better care for yours.  Thanks and see you next week.


And we brought Cheerio's enclosure in here just in the same space.  We then moved their enclosures closer and closer together as they got more comfortable with each other.