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3-legged porcupine, Quill 'Porky' Smith, finds new home at Amarillo Zoo


All right. This next story will make you want to hug a porcupine. A North American porcupine recently became a resident of the Amarillo Zoo in Texas. Zookeepers call him Quill "Porky" Smith. He's only about 4 or 5 years old but has already been through a lot.


Berkeley Hilliard is the zoo's curator. She says Quill was found on a ranch suffering from a gunshot wound.

BERKELEY HILLIARD: He did end up having to have his leg amputated due to the injury. We were actually contacted to give him a permanent home because one of his biggest defense mechanisms is now taken away, which is to climb.

MARTÍNEZ: Dylan Long is the zoo's visitor service specialist. He says without his leg, Quill would have had trouble eating and staying safe from predators.

DYLAN LONG: Mostly coyotes would be the biggest one for him for wildlife. The next one would actually be humans just for hunting purposes.

MARTIN: Now that he's at the Amarillo Zoo, Quill lives in a temporary enclosure where visitors can see him. He also gets to hang out with the staff.

HILLIARD: He kind of bosses our keepers around inside, tells them how to make his diets, and he'll go and sit in front of the fridge to beg for food.

LONG: He loves to eat sweet potatoes, as well as blueberries and carrots. He likes it in big chunks so he can chew on it, hold on it, and then he closes his eyes in bliss. He's so happy eating that we sometimes think he might fall asleep while he's eating.

MARTÍNEZ: Quill, he's just like all of us. Long says Quill also likes to surprise the zookeepers with attention.

LONG: He's usually on one side of the room, and then we turn our back and then he's right next to us.

HILLIARD: We've had him for quite a little bit now, so we're learning what each little behavior is for him. You know, is he coming to just kind of check out what we are doing, or is he about to give my kneecap a nibble?

MARTIN: Who knows? Work is now being done to build Quill a permanent home at the Amarillo Zoo, where all his new adoring fans can visit on a regular basis. Sorry, A, you still can't hug him, though.


MARTIN: I know (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF WERLIE'S "WOODLAND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.