Contest lets public name Chattanooga Zoo’s new porcupine

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Porcupines Tommy and Pookie Prickles help with the “ground digging” on the grounds of their future habitat, the Cape of Africa, on June 1 at Chattanooga Zoo. Construction on the expansion is expected to be complete in 2025.
Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Porcupines Tommy and Pookie Prickles help with the “ground digging” on the grounds of their future habitat, the Cape of Africa, on June 1 at Chattanooga Zoo. Construction on the expansion is expected to be complete in 2025.


The Prickles family grew by two a few weeks ago at Chattanooga Zoo. With Tommy and Pookie Prickles offering no overt guidance on what their offspring should be called, zoo staff named one of the brothers Nickel. Now, Chattanooga-area residents have a chance to name the other twin.

Suggestions may be offered through 5 p.m. Monday as part of a contest by Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, which sponsors the zoo's porcupine exhibit. There's a link to the form at tvfcu.com.

After the suggestions are collected, credit union employees will vote to determine their five favorite submissions. Then they'll open up voting on social media to give the community the final say on what Baby Boy Prickles' name should be.

(READ MORE: Tennessee Valley credit union grows into region's biggest mortgage lender)

A similar contest in 2023 that named older brother Dill — yes, Dill Prickles — received more than 1,000 suggestions, said Jake Cash, the zoo's marketing manager. Dill now resides at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Cash said by phone.

According to contest details online, the credit union's sponsorship of the porcupine exhibit comes with naming rights when Tommy and Pookie have babies, called porcupettes. A daughter, Penny Prickles, was born in 2022. Her name was a nod to the credit union's financial services.

"It was themed toward money," said Cash, who worked for the credit union at the time. "Nickel was a natural choice because it rhymes with Prickles and fits with Penny."

Penny is now at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. Also part of the family are twins Briar and Thistle, born last summer and still in residence at Chattanooga Zoo.

All are cape porcupines, which are common throughout Central and southern Africa. They're named for a crest of white-tipped bristles around the neck.

None of Chattanooga Zoo's cape porcupines are on display, though Cash said Tommy often meets the public as a zoo ambassador, and both Tommy and Pookie took part in the "ground digging" ceremony last June to mark the start of construction on their habitat. Expected to be complete next year, the Cape of Africa exhibit also will feature warthogs and servals and an expanded yard for the giraffes.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Zoo breaks ground on Cape of Africa expansion)

The winner of the naming contest will receive a yearlong family membership to the zoo. Because duplication of names is possible, the prize will be awarded to the first person to suggest the name that is ultimately chosen, credit union spokesperson Tiffany Wolf said in a news release.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

  photo  Contributed Photo / Chattanooga Zoo staff hold the latest cape porcupine additions, born in October to Tommy and Pookie Prickles. One has been named Nickel. Area residents have a chance to name the other.
 
 


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