Wild Inside: Celebrating the prickliest of Zoo Knoxville’s animals

Meet Pedzi & Madleine, the zoo’s two porcupines from different corners of the world.
Meet Pedzi & Madleine, the zoo’s two porcupines from different corners of the world.
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 10:57 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - While they may look prickly, there’s nothing cuter than Pedzi and Madeline, Zoo Knoxville’s two porcupines.

If you’ve been to the zoo on a warm day, you’ve most likely seen Pedzi wandering the grounds with her handlers. Pedzi is a Cape Porcupine, which are the largest porcupines in the world.

“They are found along southern Africa,” said Brad Parsons, a keeper at the zoo with Wild Encounters. “They are nocturnal so in the wild they tend to come out at night when we’re not as active.”

One common misconception about porcupines is that they can shoot their quills, something Parsons says isn’t true.

“That’s a myth,” said Parsons. “Those quills are just modified hairs. So just like you can’t shoot hair out of your head, she can’t shoot those quills out of her body.”

Cape porcupines are used to fighting off lions and other large prey in Africa; that’s why they have quills that are a foot long.

The zoo’s other porcupine, Madeline, is a prehensile-tailed porcupine found mainly in central and South America.

“Madeline is what we call arboreal, meaning she mostly lives in trees, while Pedzi is ground dwelling.”

Madeline likes to snack on bananas and cashews, while Pedzi loves her corn on the cob.

“Pedzi eats it just like you and I would. She’s going eat all those kernels right off the cob and she’ll turn it with her paws as she goes,” Parsons said.

Brad said like most of us, Pedzi is very food motivated!

You can see Pedzi and the rest of the Wild Encounters animals at Zoo Knoxville. Although being from Africa, Pedzi enjoys being out on warmer days!

To check out the rest of the animals we’ve featured on Wild Inside, click here, for more on Zoo Knoxville and Pedzi, click here!