There was an issue validating your request. Please try again later.

The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Captivated by Porcupines

Posted by | June 14, 2023 | Filed under: Opinion

What kind of petty, horrible person would ever contemplate spitting on a captive animal? And yet I stared incredulously as my date leaned over the railing at the Queens Zoo and prepared to spit on the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) asleep in the enclosure below. A defenseless mammal, already a prisoner, subject to further humiliation.

Of course, the young woman didnt *actually* spit on the poor beast. She backed away, grinning; a peculiar sense of humor clearly evident. I reminded her about that Queens Zoo porcupine in the wedding vows we exchanged a year later. I admit that I have been fascinated by both creatures ever since. After sixteen years of marriage, I still point out to her porcupines in trees, on roadsides, and of course, at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

Zoos are essential and important places, introducing people, especially city folk, to their animal cousins. But I prefer animals in the wild, where theyre less captive and more captivating. For instance: the young porcupine that took up a month-long residency behind our Coastal Ecology Center lab this past winter (see page 3 of the latest Watermark newsletter, or a video on our Facebook page). Someone brought it an apple once a week. That someone presumed that the porcupines squeaks and grunts were expressions of delight, forgiveness, and an appreciation for this protected place that is a haven for all.

That porcupine eventually moved on, but with summers arrival in Maine, creatures great and small are appearing once again at the Wells Reserve. Welcome back, friends. I do hope you can come for an extended visit and that youll make a gift to this place that continues to renew so many. Thank you, as ever, for your support and love for the Wells Reserve. We hope to see you here.


← View all Blog Posts