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Photos: Cute but not-so-cuddly porcupines take up residence at Loveland Living Aquarium

Ilsa, one of two prehensile-tailed porcupines new to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, climbs down a tree to sample a tasty treat offered to her by Scott Chambers, curator of mammals and birds, at the Draper aquarium on Wednesday. Ilsa and Darwin, a male prehensile-tailed porcupine, came to the aquarium from a zoo in Michigan where they were born. Ilsa is about 2 ½ years old and Darwin is about 1 ½ years old.

According to the aquarium, the porcupines like to eat fruit, vegetables, flowers, shoots and leaves. Their prehensile tail helps them balance and climb trees. The tail is primarily made of muscle and can support the entire weight of the porcupine. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are found in South American rainforests. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot shoot their quills, but the quills can detach once they land in the skin of a predator. The porcupines are part of a Species Survival Plan program, which helps ensure genetic diversity among animals in zoos and aquariums nationwide.

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