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Update!: Click the link below for 45 photos! Read below for the story!
Here is a close up of the flying raccoon that i uploaded a week ago.
If you want to see how the raccoon got into this situation feel free to check out more photos from the event.
I was watching the Lemurs at the North Carolina Zoo, it was a beautiful day. Like most zoos, Lemurs are put on an island with various logs, trees and rocks, because the lemurs love to move around. They are famous for their leaps and their sunbathing.
Lemurs are also notoriously alert at zoos, almost acting like sentries, always looking out for things that could happen on their own island. That day something would happen!
I noticed the Lemurs were looking up in the tree and barking, so i looked up and saw an animal with a ringed tail, similar to the Ring-Tailed Lemurs that were in the exhibit. I couldn't really tell what it was but ASSUMED it was a lemur, so i took a photo and looked at the screen and saw that it was a raccoon stuck in the tree! How strange!
I wondered what a raccoon was doing in a tree on the Lemur island. I thought maybe, just maybe, they paired the animals together, because this is a common practice in zoos. I thought this because both animals have ringed tails, something that is very rare. After i heard excessive barking from the Lemurs, i knew this was not the case.
It seemed that the young raccoon had fallen into the exhibit over night or in the morning and had to swim to the island, since it is an Island once your in you can't escape! So once on the island it was probably biding it's time, thinking of a way to escape when all of a sudden 5 lemurs are released into the Lemur island! All the raccoon could probably do was run up the tree for safety.
Now that is where we are, a young raccoon stuck in a tree with a bunch of Lemurs running around the bottom, barking and calling towards the Raccoon.
The Raccoon looked unhappy and restless, clutching the large branch, looking helplessly out towards the world. The Raccoon decided to try to climb higher, surely if he goes to a higher branch he will find a way to escape this horrible island and get back into the wild. He slowly walked towards the center of the tree and started to climb up top, looking up towards a branch he wanted to venture to.
Climbing to a higher branch the Raccoon realized it was too big to climb up to and started the descent down, and during this moment the Raccoon lost it's gripping on the bark and was thrown into a free-fall down 20+ feet to the ground, inches away from a rock that could have easily killed the Raccoon.
Amazingly the story does not end here! Upon hitting the ground i did not have time to breathe, nor did the Raccoon! Remember the Raccoon is stuck on the Lemur Island, and the Lemurs don't want this ring tailed cousin to stay! The more aggressive and obvious dominant red ruffed lemur took the leadership role and IMMEDIATELY jumped towards the Raccoon to scare him off the island!
The Raccoon, not even fazed by the fall, noticed the Red Ruffed Lemur barreling down on him and had to continue his escape! The only place the Raccoon could go was towards the water that made the moat of the island. On it's way there, the Red Ruffed Lemur continued to hound the Raccoon, barking and screaming and even attempted to push the raccoon away. The Raccoon was NOT up for a fight, it obviously was scared and in flight mode.
Thankfully for Raccoons, they are amazing swimmers and can swim for up to 2 hours. I called the Zoo to let them know that there was a wild raccoon in the lemur island, they thanked me and didn't seem to know what to do, it took them a minute to figure to call a keeper.
We watched as the Raccoon swam around the moat, looking desperately for some way out of the island. After about 15 minutes a zoo goer decided to step in and help the wild Raccoon out, something i appreciated at the time but in hindsight it was probably a really bad idea. (The lemurs could have easily escaped!)
The zoo goer took a large branch from the woods and leaned it into the exhibit in a way that would let the Raccoon cling onto and climb out. Amazingly, the raccoon immediately noticed the escape path once lowered into the water, went right to it and climbed out on the first try within 10 seconds!
As soon as the raccoon got out, he shook his coat and rested for a couple of seconds, probably thinking about what just happened.
What an amazing event and i'm so glad i was able to witness this! Check out over 30 photos from this event below!