SCOTTSBLUFF — Four-month-old porcupine, affectionately named Quillow by some of the staff members at Riverside Discover Center, has been taken in by the zoo and is very happy there.
Quillow’s mother was struck and killed by a car when it was just a few weeks old. The baby was found and taken care of by a wildlife rehabilitation expert, who took it to the staff at the zoo about two weeks ago. As it so happened, the zoo was looking to include porcupines in its long-term collection of animals, and had a space open for baby Quillow.
After going through tests and vaccinations, Quillow is now ready to settle into its new enclosure. It is very affectionate with humans, having been raised by them for most of its young life. When it was picked up by Riverside Discovery Center’s executive director Anthony Mason, it began suckling on his shirt sleeve.
“She’s still right around the age where she is switching between solid food and suckling,” Mason said. “We actually still don’t know whether it’s a boy or a girl, but we could do a DNA test with the quills. And we were thinking about doing that, actually.”
Mason has been working at Riverside Discovery Center as a director for 2 1/2 years, and has a self-proclaimed love of porcupines.
“I have a fondness for them,” he said. “I think they’re just such fascinating animals.”
Quillow is the first North American porcupine in residence at the zoo, according to records. North American porcupines are the second largest rodent species on the continent and are actually native to the Scottsbluff area.
“We used to have crows in this enclosure, and we just finished shipping them out to the Oklahoma City zoo. This is a good area for porcupines because it has a lot of places for Quillow to climb on and a lot of leaves,” said Mason. “We feed Quillow a lot of vegetables, including sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli — which is actually her favorite."
Porcupines are herbivores, and primarily feed on twigs and leaves. When zookeepers come back in the morning to check on Quillow, they see the evidence of her nocturnal wanderings in the chewed up leaves.
“She loves to climb, and she can actually get off these logs. Don’t let her fool you — she’s a bit of an attention-seeker,” Mason said.
In the future, Quillow will be the feature of a few education programs, as it is very friendly with volunteers and staff.
Visitors can visit Quillow seven days a week at the zoo, or follow its journey on its Instagram page, @RDC_Quillow.