Rac­coon re­leased into wild af­ter suc­cess­ful skyscraper climb

The Guardian Australia - - World News - Sam Wolfson

A dare­devil rac­coon that be­came an on­line sen­sa­tion when it spent al­most 20 nail-bit­ing hours scal­ing a 25-storey of­fice tower in Min­nesota has been safely res­cued and re­leased back into the wild af­ter mak­ing it to the top of the build­ing un­scathed.The an­i­mal’s as­cent on the out­side of the UBS build­ing in down­town St Paul city was watched across the world on so­cial me­dia on Tuesday, with up­dates on its progress posted reg­u­larly by the Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio un­der the hash­tag #MPRrac­coon. Crowds also gath­ered at the scene to watch.

De­spite wide­spread con­cern for its safety – as well as Spi­der-Man and Mis­sion Im­pos­si­ble jokes – it re­port­edly reached the roof at 3am lo­cal time yes­ter­day, where cat food was wait­ing in­side a hu­mane trap.“It was heart­break­ing to see yes­ter­day,” MPR jour­nal­ist Tim Nel­son told the BBC af­ter the racoon made it to safety. “We couldn’t imag­ine how this would end well for him.”The an­i­mal’s brush with in­ter­na­tional fame be­gan on Monday, when it was orig­i­nally spot­ted on the roof of a nearby two-storey of­fice block. It is be­lieved to have been there for two days with­out food or wa­ter, be­fore be­ing re­moved by main­te­nance work­ers. Rather than find safety on street level, how­ever, it jumped over to the UBS Tower, one of the largest sky­scrapers in the city, where it ap­par­ently be­gan climb­ing the out­side of the build­ing – mov­ing up, down, and some­times side­ways.

The rac­coon’s climb seemed grav­ity-de­fy­ing to on­look­ers who gath­ered below, as it scaled the walls with seem­ingly lit­tle to grip to. As it reached the win­dow ledge of each storey, it would of­ten pause to take a break, and have a nap, de­light­ing work­ers in­side the build­ing who posted video footage of it stretch­ing and groom­ing it­self.James Gunn, di­rec­tor of the Hol­ly­wood film Guardians of the Galaxy, of­fered to do­nate $1,000 (£750) to char­ity if any­one could save the an­i­mal.

But so­cial me­dia cel­e­brated in the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing when the an­i­mal, which had been nick­named “spi­der-rac­coon”, fi­nally reached the top of the build­ing, where the city’s depart­ment of safety in­spec­tions set live traps for the rac­coon on the roof of the build­ing so it could be safely re­turned to ground level. “Here’s the #mprrac­coon tak­ing the easy way down, in a UBS Plaza freight el­e­va­tor,” Nel­son tweeted yes­ter­day, along­side a pic­ture of it in a cage. At lunchtime on Wednesday, a pri­vate con­trac­tor hired to catch it told Nel­son they re­leased it “on pri­vate prop­erty at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion, af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter”. They posted a video of the re­lease on their Facebook page:

Such pos­i­tive at­ten­tion for a rac­coon is rare in the US, where they are largely viewed as pests. Emer­gency ser­vices re­ceive hun­dreds of calls each year about ag­gres­sive rac­coons break­ing into apart­ments or pre­vent­ing peo­ple from walk­ing down the street. In May, a man in Michi­gan called the po­lice af­ter a fam­ily of rac­coons crashed through the ceil­ing into his liv­ing room. In April, the NYPD re­ceived a num­ber of calls from scared res­i­dents who be­lieved they’d seen an es­caped tiger wan­der­ing the streets of New York. It turned out to be a large rac­coon.“I was talk­ing to a wildlife expert yes­ter­day who said there might be a dozen or two dozen of these rac­coons in ev­ery square mile here in Min­nesota – they’re ev­ery­where. But you don’t see them scal­ing of­fice tow­ers,” Nel­son said, adding that him and his col­leagues had been over­whelmed by the in­ter­na­tional re­ac­tion to their tweets about the rac­coon.

“It’s kind of ab­surd that I took a cou­ple of pic­tures of an an­i­mal that peo­ple usu­ally hate and think is dis­gust­ing, and all of a sud­den it has thou­sands of retweets and likes.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.