Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bittersweet Reunion

It has been exactly two weeks since we relocated our baby raccoons to a nearby zoo to participate in its "rehab and release" program. We went to visit them today, wondering if they would recognize us. I mean, who knows about a raccoon? Any doubt was immediately erased. I mean, this pictre says it all:Yes, both raccoons are holding hands with my wife from inside their roomy cage.
They recongized us before we recognized them. They're in an enclosure with another young raccoon and they have grown!For about fifteen seconds, we weren't sure which ones were ours, but once my wife spoke to them, they immediately came to us and stuck their noses through the chicken wire and the chain link.
It's easy to feel sorry for them, and a little perspective helps. While they had moments of complete freedom in our back yard, most of the time they were confined to a kennel. Here, they have much more room to move about. Their home is about eight feet long, six feet deep and twelve feet high. There's plenty of stuff to climb on, lots of food and water, as well as raccoon buddies. It tugs at the heart strings, though, because they certainly knew the lady who fed them 'round the clock for eight weeks.It wasn't long at all before they started talking to us in their little raccoon way. And, yes, they made eye contact with us. How can you resist this face?Emotion trumped reason and I went into the enclosure. I asked the question which had been routine when they lived with us, "Who's a raccoon?" They came to me and I petted them on the head. The little one licked my hand, just like old times.When will they be considered to have been sufficiently rehabilitated to be released into the wild? The answer is, "When they run away from humans." Based on what we experienced today, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

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