Nature's Witness

A Prickly Pleasure

  • Photograph by Melissa Groo
  • PhotoZone
  • Mar 31, 2023

BORN LAST APRIL, this one-month-old baby porcupine—or porcupette—became orphaned shortly after birth but received loving care from a wildlife rehabilitation hospital at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

For years, photographer Melissa Groo has been documenting animals at the hospital and tracing their rehabilitation and eventual release into the wild. Though her subjects have included everything from foxes and beavers to owls and bobcats, this spiky fellow really captured her heart. “He was so adorable,” says Groo. “When the rehabilitator gave him a glove, he’d take it in his teeth and shake his head back and forth, then run in circles like a playful puppy.”

Groo cherishes these “intimate windows” into the lives of wild animals, many of which are in rehab because they’ve been hit by cars, poisoned or shot by people who view them as pests. Groo’s goal is to show humans how their actions can harm wildlife—and how they can help native creatures survive. “It’s heartbreaking and inspiring to see how these animals can thrive with human help,” she says. “Sharing this passion is what keeps me going.”

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

Pining Away? »
Let Nature Take Its Course? »
See Last Issue's Nature's Witness »

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