Everyone has a favorite animal of some sort; some even have more than one, which would make it a difficult choice if you were stranded on a deserted island with your two favorite animals and not enough food. Anyways, this story is about me, and why my favorite animal is the raccoon.
It all began in the year 1994. I was a child back then, and I didn’t know much about the world and what it had to offer. I lived in Munich, Germany at the time, and unlike the school system here, we would go once or twice a month to these crazy school trips where we would get an in-depth education about the current month’s subject. This one time, we went to a water filtration facility about 2 hours outside of the city. It was an ominous experience, because most of what I draw from that trip was being inside the facility in this enormous room, with a huge pool and nothing but water everywhere; the dark concrete being illuminated by the reflections of the water. It was very gloomy indeed. I still think back to that day, thinking, what if I had been pushed over the railing? There were no ladders anywhere, and what would have happened had I drowned there? Would they even be able to save me? It was at least 8 meters height from water surface to the platform. By the way, 8 meters is like 150 feet for you who don’t fully understand the magnitude of this.
One of the other trips we took was to this wild park habitat, where they had bears, elks and all these other woodland critters running around in fenced off areas; think of Jurassic Park® and how that set up was. The park was fairly huge, and we spent the entire day out there looking at animals, and we mostly left with disturbing images in our heads because it was mating season for the animals. But aside from all the negative imagery, on that faithful day I had met my favorite animal; the Procyon also known as the Raccoon. There was a group of them in this huge fenced-in area and I was immediately drawn to their presence, as if they were calling for me. And in some ways they were, because I had a bag of peanuts on me and of course they wanted to eat. When I was by the fence, they all gathered there as well, all seven of them. One of them stretched his little hand through the hexagonal shape of the fence, and I gave him a few of my peanuts. Two minutes later, my bag of peanuts was empty, and I made some pretty amazing friends.
What I really love about these creatures is that they look like little thieves. They have that robber mask covering their eyes, and they look like dog / bear hybrid with a bushy tail. They do fall into the category of a canine, so they are some sort of bear. They also have like these funny monkey-like hands, where they can actually grab onto you, or a bag of peanuts if it is a bit closer than you thought it would be. Their color ranges from gray to a brown-gray, and as little cubs, they are all brown but still maintain the trademark robber mask on their face.
Unfortunately, they are illegal to have as pets, and actually can be quite dangerous if not trained well. I have found a loophole to circumvent that by obtaining one when I was 10 years old. I bought him for only 50 Deutsch Marks, which was like $10 or something back in the day. I still don’t understand why I named a plush toy raccoon Ferdinand though. Ferdinand actually made it to the United States with me when I moved here in 1999, which was quite awesome; he sat with me in my seat. Now that I think about it, watching the movie Ted® the other day made me wish Ferdinand was alive like Ted and I could take him out to bars with me. He would hang out with me, and Tom Cruise at casinos, re-enacting scenes from Rain Man®.
I had plenty of real life encounters with raccoons in New York. There are plenty here in Central Park, but one must be careful; they do have rabies and have strong teeth that can tear flesh. One of my encounters with one was a few years back when I was in Central Park. Some old geezer was walking his dog, and the dog started barking. It was barking at a raccoon that was hiding in the bushes. The raccoon immediately jumped onto a tree trunk and proceeded to slowly climb up, while periodically stopping and glancing down at the dog, as if to say “WTF mate?” It was a pudgy Raccoon; it moved slowly and looked like it was getting tired – which segways into my next point about them: They seem to be mostly fat and are slow sometimes. This explains why I usually see many of them dead on the sides of highways here in New York. Seeing them like that always makes a part of me die inside.
It is always kind of weird seeing road kill, especially when it’s your favorite animal. I think a wise lion once said that it is the circle of life or something. One day I hope to have a real Raccoon as a pet, no matter what anyone says, I will accomplish this, even if I have to move to Canada… oh God™.