The professor and the friendly squirrel

Dr Lynn Owens, a lecturer in broadcast and electronic news at the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism, was driving home Tuesday evening when she felt something moving on her foot. She looked down and saw a squirrel climbing her leg. Despite driving on a freeway at over 70 miles an hour she managed to remain calm and even shoot some video with her cell phone. So did the squirrel — remained calm I mean — who wound up sitting on her lap the rest of the drive home, even when she stopped to pick up her two little girls en route.

The young squirrel proved very friendly to everybody, and the kids naturally wanted to keep him as a pet, naming him Mr Nuts. Her husband, a journalist himself at WRAL in Raleigh, made sure the story made it on the air that night.

But Dr Owens decided that the squirrel needed to return to campus. So she drove him back to Chapel Hill the next day. When she released him near some trees, however, he looked upset and ran back up her leg. She gave up and took the squirrel to her office, where Mr Nuts sat on her shoulder. She had record numbers of students stop by for office hours. At the end of the day she took the squirrel to a wildlife rehabilitation facility here in Durham, where the squirrel, assumed to be an orphan, is drinking milk from a bottle, socializing with other young squirrels, and taking squirreling classes to prepare for life in the trees.

For more, including video of the squirrel, here’s the original report that aired on WRAL Tuesday evening:

And here’s an update broadcast Wednesday:

The WRAL page on the story can be found at this link.

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