An animal called “Gundy” with small paws, fluffy body hair, and round ears has become popular on social media.
In August of last year, a photo of the animals lying on top of each other was uploaded. In June of this year, a photo of a baby Gundi received 60,000 “likes. In June of this year, the baby’s photo received 60,000 “likes” and became very popular. A woman in her twenties who frequently visits the zoo where Gundi is kept told me about her fascination with the animal.
“They are cute on their own, but when they are all stacked on top of each other, they are just too precious. The way they lie on top of each other is just like kinako mochi. I always come here to look at them before I go to work.
What kind of animal is this Gundi that attracts people so much? Mr. Yoshihiko Takagi, deputy director and head of the clinic at Saitama Children’s Zoological Park (Higashi Matsuyama City), tells us about the ecology of this animal.
“The size of the animal is about 20 to 30 cm. Their lifespan is about 7 to 8 years. It is a member of the porcupine family, and in the wild, it lives in the desert rocky areas of the hot and arid regions of North Africa. It lives in rocky crevices and is diurnal. They can climb vertical walls if they are rough, and they can burrow into small crevices because they can spread their ribs to flatten their bodies. Another characteristic of the Gundi is that they are highly athletic and powerful.
Gundy is the “fairy of the desert,” but in Japan they are rare and can only be seen at the Saitama Children’s Zoo.
“Anyway, it’s difficult to find the right combination of individuals. Gundis live in groups of several animals, and if one of them becomes ill, it is immediately removed from the group as a liability. German zoos control the pedigree of the animals and strictly check to make sure that they have sufficient breeding conditions. We then transfer the animals to the zoo, so they are kept only in parts of Europe and our zoo, even in the world,” said Takagi.
Currently, the zoo exhibits a flock of about 11 animals, consisting of one mating pair and their offspring, and three baby Gundis are growing up.
From “FRIDAY” October 1, 2021 issue
Photo： Saitama Prefecture Children's Animal Nature Park