Crazy Half-Nekked Wife got a call last week from the city animal shelter asking if we could take a baby racoon, only a few days old. CHNW is on the list of people to call whenever they get an animal they can't adopt out as a pet, and so far we've taken off their hands lambs, hens, roosters, ducks, goats, calves, and a "hairless pink spider monkey," which later turned out to be a drunken, naked high school student from New Jersey.
The baby, smaller than the three-week-old kittens we're currently fostering, had been brought to the shelter by a city worker who found her in a compost pile in Central Park.
We accepted the challenge, and CHNW began calling and googling to find out everything she could about baby racoons. She's fostered them before, but never this young. The furry baby's eyes weren't even open yet.
Experts told her how and what to feed the little tyke, and that the infant never should have been removed from the park in the first place. She likely fell out of her nest and her mother would have retrieved her after she was back from the store or wherever. Since there are so many animals in Central Park, you'd think the workers would be trained not to do this sort of thing.
For two days, CHNW fed the little critter with a syringe, kept her warm, and resisted handling or talking to her any more than necessary. On expert advice, this is the best way to keep them from trusting humans, which is a fatal mistake for any animal that is to be returned to the wild.
With a little detective work, CHNW ascertained the area of the park in which our guest was discovered, so she and another NY rescuer, Amy M., headed over there at dusk on Sunday. Upon arrival they saw several adult racoons roaming the area among the muggers and less-bright tourists, but none were interested in the baby. Turns out they were males, who are not yet enlightened about equal rights among the sexes, and leave the baby-tracking chores to their womenfolk. Coincidentally, a local woman was passing by and knew where a racoon nest was. She led them to a tree and pointed to a large hole about six feet off the ground, out of which peered an adult racoon with an I-thought-all-your-sort-had-gone-home-by-now look on her face.
CHNW approached the tree holding the baby aloft and, as hoped, it began to make its weird racoon-baby noise. (If you've never heard this, it sounds like a cross between a UFO from a cheap 1950s movie, and what you'd imagine a baby dinosaur sounded like.) The momma's look abruptly changed to something that might go with the words, "Gimme that or I'll pop a cap in yo' ass!"
Amy M., who is taller than CHNW, lifted the baby up and dropped her into the hole with the mom, scurrying backward quickly so as not to be bitten or sprayed with mace. Central Park racoons are pretty sophisticated. CHNW and Amy held their breath and listened as the sounds of several babies and their UFOs wafted into the air, signaling that a feeding frenzy had begun. On the mother's milk, not the prodigal 'coon.
This shot is of the momma hunkering down over her litter of hungry beasts.
Sometimes these rescue situations turn out great, other times they end in tragedy, tears, and tiny graves in the back yard. This time we got lucky!
I find that when there's a baby racoon in the house, I can't resist having my picture taken with her.
All this was done through a grassroots Brooklyn organization run by Amy M., who works tirelessly to save and place animals in NYC. If you appreciate this kind of thing, she, and hundreds of dogs and cats rescued from death row each year by Amy M. and her volunteers, would appreciate it if you threw a few bucks their way. http://www.sugarmuttsrescue.com/