For a while, the world briefly forgot about the state of current affairs in order to watch in horror — and hope — as a stranded raccoon took its fate into its own paws and scaled a building on Tuesday.
The story first erupted on social media when someone noticed a raccoon stranded on a level on the UBS building in St. Paul, Minnesota. It seemed that the creature had decided that the only way out of the situation was to strive ever upwards. Struggling skywards, many people within the UBS building as well as those surrounding it took photos of the raccoon in an effort to record the event. For some, the thought of the animal plummeting to its death was too much to bear. But, such is the way with these sorts of incidents, it was a case of not being able to look away.
Alongside the social media presence, many people called the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota and the city of St. Paul’s animal control in order to get help for the critter. Not to be outdone, a trio of maintenance workers also rigged a 20-foot length of lumber in an effort to rescue the raccoon.
Still, the animal climbed.
The animal was dubbed the #MPRRaccoon after people on social media started tagging MPR News in the plight of the poor beast, and it quickly became the hashtag to watch in regard to how the raccoon was faring. A local CBS affiliate also started live streaming the event, according to the Telegraph.
It was first sighted on Monday in a niche in the wall of the UBS building on “an outside wall of what was once the Donaldson’s department store at 7th and Cedar streets,” according to MPR News. By Tuesday, it had climbed to more than 200 feet above ground level, with the Telegraph reporting that the #MPRRaccoon had made it as high as the 23rd story of the 25-story UBS building by Tuesday evening.
According to the Star Tribune, the #MPRRaccoon stopped two stories short of the UBS Tower roof. It was at this point that animal control officers tried to lure the animal over with food in traps in an effort to rescue the raccoon.
The animal responded by descending.
As people watched the fate of the small creature atop a large building, always reporting on its fate, news spread. Hollywood director James Gunn (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame), using his Twitter account, offered to donate $1,000 to charity in the name of “anyone who saves this raccoon. I can’t handle this. Poor dude.”
But, why did the #MPRRaccoon scale such a huge building?
According to Bryan Lueth from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, climbing things is a part of a raccoon’s defensive instincts. When cornered or stuck in a situation it feels threatened in, a raccoon’s natural instinct is to climb its way out.
“If I had to come up with a scenario, I would say it was maybe holed up in an alley and it got rousted out of there by something and then ran out onto the sidewalk, and then there’s all these people around. It’s like ‘Ah!’ The natural instinct is to climb,” Lueth told MPR News.
It has also been suggested by experts that people stay away from the building as this might be hampering the raccoon’s descent back to street level overnight. There were also concerns that too many onlookers might frighten the animal, causing it to fall.
And, that is something no one wants to see.
By 8 p.m. on Tuesday, the #MPRRaccoon was still stranded and still trending on Twitter.
Several fake accounts on the raccoon’s behalf had also been set up on Twitter. Included in these accounts is The MPR Raccoon and, as of 2:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning, they have reported that the raccoon had started its ascent once more.
Then, according to several accounts on Twitter, the #MPRRaccoon had now safely made it onto the roof of the UBS building.
Finally, the UBS building gave notification via their Twitter account that the #MPRRaccoon had been safely trapped and would be relocated back into the wild.
CBC also confirmed that the raccoon “was safely caught and picked up by Wildlife Management Services on Wednesday.” After an inspection that saw the creature “bedraggled but healthy,” the raccoon was ” released on private property near the Twin Cities suburb of Shakopee, Minnesota.”
Run free little buddy, run free.