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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 22:10 GMT
Forest porcupine mystery solved
Picture of the porcupine
Spike and his family will be rehoused at a zoo in Yorkshire
The mystery of how an African porcupine came to be at large in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire appears to have been solved.

Spike, as he has become known, was captured near a bus stop at Knockly Patch, Bream, on Sunday.

It has now emerged the porcupine and his family were staying temporarily on a farm in Elwood, near Coleford, while a zoo was found to house them.

Librarian Liz Black, who owns the farm, said Spike had escaped during storms.

"I managed to round up two of the porcupine, but I didn't realise the third had got away," she explained.

Dangerous animals

The runaway rodent, which is bigger than a badger, is being cared for at the Vale Wildlife Rescue centre near Tewkesbury.

But the centre cannot return Spike to Ms Black because she doesn't have the necessary wild animal licence.

Porcupines are considered dangerous animals. Their quills can be painful or even fatal if they become embedded in skin.

Jason O'Connell, of the Vale Wildlife Centre, said: "We are not going to hand him back to anybody who has not got a wild animal licence - just so we know they have the right facilities to care and look after the animal."

Wildlife enthusiast Ms Black, who breeds polecats and has a Bengal Eagle Owl, says the zoo where the porcupines were staying had closed down suddenly.

"The zoo keepers thought I had a licence and we didn't know we needed a licence," she said.

"It was quite urgent they were rehoused."

The porcupine family will now be relocated to a zoo in Yorkshire.

Porcupine captured near bus stop
10 Jan 05 |  Gloucestershire

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