By Gelsey Torres
Here at the Academy of Natural Sciences, our live animal ambassadors play a big role in our museum. You may have petted a bunny, held a cockroach, or touched the scales of a snake during your latest visit. But many of our animals, such as our birds of prey, cannot be touched because they are wild animals. By law, our caretakers must be specially trained and authorized to handle the animals. Certain wild animals see their caretakers as members of their flock or pack, and they view other people as members of different flocks or packs. In the wild, different flocks and packs seldom interact.
If you have a pet fish at home, you know that some animals simply prefer to be admired from a distance! At the Academy, we also have some domesticated animals that only our caretakers can handle. One example is our new African pygmy hedgehogs. So why can’t we let our visitors touch these cute critters?
If you pet a hedgehog gently, it is like petting a prickly brush. Hedgehogs’ spines can be sharp if you press down on them too hard—and mishandling a hedgehog would be very uncomfortable for the animal.
Just because you can’t touch our hedgehogs doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their company and learn more about them. Come visit our two new African pygmy hedgehogs on Thursday, April 24, when they will be out to meet visitors for the very first time. Join them for story time with our puppet storyteller Marty the Moose to hear some hedgehog tales.