Rac­coon free af­ter scal­ing 25-storey tower in St. Paul

Times Colonist - - Canada / World -

MIN­NEAPOLIS — A rac­coon that be­came an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion by scal­ing a 25-storey office tower in down­town St. Paul was safely trapped Wed­nes­day and re­leased back into the wild.

The rac­coon looked a bit bedrag­gled but healthy af­ter it was caught be­fore dawn atop the UBS Plaza. Tech­ni­cians took the caged rac­coon down a freight el­e­va­tor to a truck, ac­cord­ing to Wildlife Man­age­ment Ser­vices, which pro­vides an­i­mal con­trol ser­vices for St. Paul.

“It’s def­i­nitely a healthy rac­coon. It’s in good con­di­tion. It’s eat­ing nor­mally,” said Christina Val­divia, the com­pany’s gen­eral man­ager, who ac­com­pa­nied the tech­ni­cians to the rooftop.

The rac­coon’s ad­ven­tures caused a stir on so­cial me­dia as it scaled the tower Tues­day, with many Twit­ter users voic­ing con­cern for its safety or jok­ing about the drama as its seem­ingly death-de­fy­ing climb was livestreamed by sev­eral broad­cast­ers. Val­divia said her mother-in­law saw it on the news in Chile.

The an­i­mal made it to the roof early Wed­nes­day, where traps baited with cat food were wait­ing. The fe­male was re­leased later in the day and scam­pered into a wooded area on pri­vate prop­erty near the Twin Cities sub­urb of Shakopee.

Min­nesota Pub­lic Ra­dio, which broke the story and closely fol­lowed the rac­coon’s climb from its head­quar­ters less than a block away, branded the an­i­mal #mprrac­coon.

Among those riv­eted was Suzanne Mac­Don­ald, a rac­coon be­hav­iour ex­pert at York Univer­sity in Toronto.

“Rac­coons don’t think ahead very much, so rac­coons don’t have very good im­pulse con­trol,” she said, ad­mit­ting she could barely sleep be­cause she was so wor­ried about the an­i­mal. “I don’t think the rac­coon re­al­ized when it started climb­ing what it was in for.”

Ini­tial spec­u­la­tion was that the rac­coon climbed to a lower part of the build­ing, fre­quented by pi­geons, in search of bird eggs. But workers who tried to lure it down with a wooden ramp likely just scared it, said Phil Jenni, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter of Min­nesota.

So it did what rac­coons do when they’re stressed: it climbed.

It’s not un­usual for rac­coons to climb fairly tall trees and other struc­tures, ac­cord­ing to Mac­Don­ald and Jenni, though nei­ther had heard of one climb­ing such a tall build­ing be­fore.

A Toronto rac­coon grabbed sim­i­lar at­ten­tion in 2015, af­ter climb­ing up and down a 213-me­tre con­struc­tion crane.

A rac­coon scur­ries up the side of the UBS Tower in St. Paul, Min­nesota, on Tues­day. It was caught and re­leased on Wed­nes­day.

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