Henry I had quite a collection of exotic animals including a porcupine and some hyaenas which he kept at Woodstock. Thankfully he built a large wall around it. The local population may initially have thought that he was establishing a deer park – so it may have come as something as a shock when the hyaenas arrived with the lions, leopards and camels. Henry arranged for fodder to be strewn for his non carnivorous pets by Henry de La Wade of Stanton Harcourt who also came to have responsibility for the royal falcons.
Which leaves us with the porcupine. It was a gift from William V of Montpellier who had gone on the First Crusade. Medieval bestiaries describe porcupines using their quills to spear fruit. They were also symbolic of sin -the fleshly ones apparently so an eminently suitable pet for womanising King Henry I. If you don’t fancy that particular sin othe bestiaries pinned avarice and covetousness on the porcupine and hedgehog – all those spikes collecting up everything around it.
Henry III would develop the menagerie Woodstock to form the basis of his own menagerie at the Tower of London which was initially founded by King John.
Grigson, Caroline, Menagerie: The History of Exotic Animals in England, 1100-1837, (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2016)
Poole, Austin Lane, From Domesday book to Magna Carta, 1087-1216 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1951)