Dorit the porcupine in the grass Dorit the porcupine in the grass Dorit the porcupine is a small mammal who likes long walks in the grass. (Photo: Ramat Gan Safari)

Porcupine finds love at Ramat Gan Safari

At a zoo in Tel Aviv, one of the animals has a wild suitor.

At the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv, a mysterious nighttime visitor has shaken things up. In a wildlife rendition of Romeo and Juliet, Dorit the porcupine has found herself a suitor. 

Mysterious goings on – droppings of questionable origin, staff swearing they spotted Dorit out of her enclosure – encouraged the safari to install a motion-sensor, night-vision camera outside of Dorit's home, which she shares with three eagle owls. Here's what they found:

A larger, male porcupine had been visiting Dorit in the evenings, though whether or not he sang her sweet sonnets is difficult to tell. 

"We at the Safari zoo were thrilled about the 'lover' porcupine," zoo curator Keren Or told From the Grapevine. "When we realized the only possibility for the droppings we found outside Dorit's enclosure [would be from] a wild porcupine, we decided to figure out the story and get a glimpse of the determined male."

The courting porcupine has had his eyes set on Dorit for weeks. 

Dorit the porcupine eating some fruitDorit snacking on some dinner. (Photo: Ramat Gan Safari)

Or said that the zoo is a haven for all sorts of wildlife in the Tel Aviv area. "The zoo welcomes them all, and we are always happy to add a new species to our already long urban nature species list," she said. 

And it's not the first story of forbidden romance at the safari, either. 

 "We had a similar story a few years ago with a wild male white stork," Or said. "For a few years he would come and even build a nest on top of the storks aviary every year during migration time." 

Though he was eagerly courting a female in the enclosure, their love could not be realized.

Zookeeper holding Dorit as a baby porcupineDorit imprinted on humans at an early time and has remained in human care ever since. (Photo: Ramat Gan Safari)

And so is the case with our porcupine Romeo and his Juliet, Dorit. Dorit was rescued and rehabilitated from her home in the Negev Desert as a young porcupette and imprinted on humans at an early point in her life, so she has had to stay in human care and likely couldn't make it in the wild. 

Zookeeper holds Dorit the porcupineA safari staff member holds Dorit. (Photo: Ramat Gan Safari)

"Also, Dorit was born in the Negev desert and the male is a 'city boy,'" Or said. "There might be a genetic difference in the populations, so in terms of conservation, it is not advisable for them to breed."

Or said that their romance will likely end in broken hearts, but haven't we all had our hearts broken at least once? 

"Porcupines are amazing animals," Or said. "They mate for life and live in families of parents and offspring. The parents teach the porcupettes how to forage for food and other necessary survival skills." 

For now, the porcupines will continue their nightly visits in secret, until Romeo moves on.

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