Hitchhiking baby raccoons calling Oakland Zoo home temporarily

Bay City News
Thursday, January 19, 2017
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A group of hitchhiking baby raccoons are calling the Oakland Zoo home.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A group of hitchhiking baby raccoons are calling the Oakland Zoo home while a search for a permanent residence is underway, according to zoo officials.

In September, a man who was traveling from Fort Meyers, Florida to Stinson Beach had his moving van burglarized while still in Florida, and unbeknownst to him a pregnant raccoon give birth inside the truck as a result.

Zoo officials said the raccoon mom likely entered through a broken window of the van, and gave birth to the six raccoon cubs.

After a four-day cross-country trip, the man began to unpack and found five of six cubs alive but near death after several days without food or water. One cub didn't survive.

Upon his discovery of the baby raccoons, the man immediately contacted WildCare, a wildlife hospital and environmental center in San Rafael.

WildCare officials said they raised the cubs for several months with the intent of releasing them back into the wild, but learned doing so would be illegal in both California and Florida.

"We are very grateful that the Oakland Zoo was willing and able to take these five survivors for the next leg of their journey; providing them exceptional care and enrichment until we can find them a permanent sanctuary," WildCare's director of animal care Melanie Piazza said in a statement.

The raccoon babies were taken to the Oakland Zoo on Nov. 23 after the California Department of Fish & Wildlife agreed that the cubs could be placed in a permitted facility following a 90-day quarantine.

"We are so pleased to care for these wonderful, rambunctious raccoons during their 90-day quarantine here at Oakland Zoo's Veterinary Hospital." Karen Emanuelson, director of the zoo's veterinary services, said in a statement.

Since arriving, the raccoon babies have continued to grow and develop, almost doubling in weight, and are healthy, social and extremely curious, according to zoo officials.

WildCare continues to search for a permanent home for the raccoon cubs, which are due to complete their quarantine on Feb. 23.