Packing for a Porcupine’s Flight

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Prehensile-tailed porcupine

Prehensile-tailed porcupine

Okay, so this sounds like a joke, but here it goes…Two San Diego Zoo keepers, a porcupine, and two tortoises get on a plane in San Diego. However there is no punch line, at least not yet, but there is a big adventure at hand for all involved.

This week we are headed to New York, kicking off our media tour to tell everyone about all the exciting things happening at the Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge this spring (March 2010). You may or may not have heard, but we are currently updating the public side of Polar Bear Plunge. By all means, these updates will be very educational, but also very fun! But I’ll write more about all of the things going on at Polar Bear Plunge in another post (or you can take a peek here) Right now, I want to share with you the adventure we are currently on.

As I write this, we are in the air flying in a cargo plane to New York. Yes, you read that correctly, a cargo plane. We need to fly with our animals, and with current safety regulations, we could not just bring a prehensile-tailed porcupine as a carry-on. Thus, we booked ourselves in jumper seats so we could sit right next to our beloved animals the whole way!

Of course, this begs the question, what do you do when you are told you are going to New York with a porcupine and two tortoises? Well, after the initial excitement of it all wears off, you start planning. In fact, there are a lot of meetings and e-mails, and more meetings and more e-mails. You would be amazed at how many people have worked so hard behind the scenes to make sure everything was in order for this trip.

One of the main concerns was making sure our animals would have all the amenities of the San Diego Zoo when on the road. Some of the things on the list: travel crates – check! Favorite branches for perching on – check! Favorite foods from our forage warehouse – check! Bottled water – check! Preferred enrichment items – check! Favorite bedding – check! Favorite Personal Zookeeper – check!

With everything packed and ready to go, we left for our big adventure to New York early Sunday morning (January 31). Monday, February 1, will be a day for all of us to adjust to the time change and get ready for Tuesday. In fact, you will be able to see us on national TV Tuesday morning! Just tune into The CBS Early Show, and you’ll get to see our prehensile-tailed porcupine, the Madagascan spider tortoise, the Burmese star tortoise, and a couple more!

Rick Schwartz is the San Diego Zoo’s ambassador. Read Rick’s previous post, The Best of Both Worlds.

Watch video of polar bears in Canada and a peek at the changes being made at the Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge.