I decided the other day that I wanted to do some enrichment programs for some of the animals that are never let out of their cages. This means finding something to keep them occupied and entertained and changing those things so they don’t get bored. I’ve always thought that would be what I’d be good at and it would make me feel good to help the animals in that way. I would have to research what they do in the wild and what other places have done in the past that have worked and also build the items that they would be utilizing.
You may recall that I have a fondness for the porcupines. I’ve always been one to stand up for the rights of the spiky, toothy, not so cuddly creatures and this sweet ‘pine with the broken foot was no exception. So yesterday I talked with Encar and she was all for it, as was Poo. I figured I’d start with the pines and I wanted to spend some time in the cage with them. The little one, whose name I found out was Pungulino, came out and grabbed onto my finger really hard (wasn’t sure if he was going to bite me or not) and then climbed onto my hand and arm. His little feet were cold, so I wondered if he just wanted the warmth. Anyway, I doubt many people would let a pine climb onto them without freaking out, but I did and we had a nice little bonding session. He climbed on my shoulder and sat there. Then he curled up into a little ball on my chest and fell asleep for a while. I really enjoyed the time I spent with him and had already looked up an easy enrichment game that I was going to bring in today to see how he liked it. I put him back by his house and said, ‘see ya tomorrow’ and left the enclosure.
So needless to say, it was heartbreaking to see Encar taking him out of his enclosure this morning by the tail, dead. I immediately felt like I had done something yesterday, but I couldn’t imagine what it could have been. I didn’t feed him anything, I didn’t take him outside. I wondered if maybe he had been sick and after finally getting some attention and love felt it was ok to let go. Kind of like people do when they’re very ill. I feel horrible and responsible in some way. I know it’s hard to understand being emotional over a porcupine but he was very sweet. I had so many plans for him to make him happier.