Raccoon Attacks Child and Father

February 9, 2010

Home » Commentary » Raccoon Attacks Child and Father

As the paramount raccoon I am hosting this press conference to explain and apologize rather than justify. I understand we raccoons stand rather low in the eyes of you humans who consider us stealthy and untrustworthy creatures because we wear bandit black masks across our eyes. Our physical stature is also uninspiring as we usually measure no more than a foot high at the shoulder, two feet in length, and twenty pounds. Our most celebrated exposure came several decades ago, in the era of open cars, when hundreds of thousands of us were annually slaughtered to make long chic coats for keeping people warm. We also got some publicity a half century ago when the televised Davy Crockett donned his coon skin cap. Years later, Davy’s cap was revealed to have been made of something else. Few people noticed or cared, and it’s improbable any of you would be thinking about raccoons now unless one of us had recently attacked a well-conditioned martial artist and chewed hell out of him.

I’m confident Ian Smith, a thirty-year old who kick boxes regularly, wasn’t focusing on raccoons as he drove his daughter, age eight, and an adult friend to the California Living Museum about fifteen miles east of Bakersfield, California. Mr. Smith has been a member there half his life and knows the small zoo houses – imprisons, actually – some creatures with considerable star power: a brown bear, a bald eagle, and bobcats. Even coyotes and poisonous snakes get more attention than raccoons. If Smith has studied us, however, he may have been impressed we can stand steadily on our hind legs while adroitly examining objects with our “hyper sensitive” front paws, and that we rapidly climb trees then, reversing the direction of our back feet, walk headfirst down the trees. He would have been duly alarmed by our forty long and sharp teeth filling a nastier mouth than that of most dogs.

I hope Mr. Smith is aware of our formidable intellectual qualities. Indeed, raccoons have proven they can “open eleven of thirteen complex locks in less than ten tries and have no problems repeating the action when the locks are rearranged or turned upside down.” Try that sometime soon, if you please. We have also proven we’re “able to instantly differentiate between identical and different symbols three years after the short initial learning phase.” I suggest some of your economists undergo similar training.

I want Mr. Smith, and all of you here today, to know that we raccoons are not the miserable, solitary creatures we’re portrayed to be. A few related females often live together, in an expansive common area, as unrelated males do elsewhere. It’s usually only mothers who “isolate themselves from other raccoons until their kits are big enough to defend themselves.” We’re also adept at “collective eating, sleeping and playing.” I’m certain many people, especially the readers of supermarket tabloids, will be delighted to learn that during our late January to mid-March mating season impassioned males “roam their home ranges in search of females” and delight them with gentlemanly foreplay and copulation that “lasts over an hour and is repeated over several nights.” To ensure procreation, one third of females mate with more than one ardent male. To avoid inbreeding, males usually leave the home range.

All right, stop grumbling. I know you didn’t come to hear how wonderful we are. Let’s talk about the unfortunate attack. I condemn the renegade raccoon, who had been a pet before his owner donated him to the zoo. Before being cleared for rabies he was held in a temporary cage and from there he escaped, eluded the search party, and Sunday before last charged the young daughter of Ian Smith and bit her pants leg. Mr. Smith, as bravely as any raccoon mother – fathers take no part in our upbringing – picked up his daughter and began battering the raccoon with his expert kicks. I assume Mr. Smith’s kicks hurt human opponents but they did not faze my fellow raccoon. Handing his daughter to his friend, who rushed to the museum office, Mr. Smith established a stable base from which he launched what he described as the hardest kicks of his life. Still the raccoon tore into him. Mr. Smith tried to climb above the fray, onto a tree branch, which regrettably broke, leaving the young martial artist prone on the ground where the raccoon at once tore off one of his shoes then attempted the coup de grace – a slash of the neck. Thankfully, the well-trained Mr. Smith thrust his arms up and, while at least protecting his jugular vein, suffered multiple deep bites to his fingers, one of which was almost severed. Mr. Smith, despite his background as a striker, instinctively realized, however belatedly, that tactical change was critical, and, like a grappler, threw his weight onto the raccoon and pinned it as museum officials and another visitor ran in to help. Bleeding heavily, Mr. Smith was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.

His most severely damaged finger was saved, his other cuts are healing, and, while he recovers, sleeplessly, at home, he’s justifiably upset that museum officials didn’t warn visitors that a raccoon was on the loose. Why didn’t they? Don’t communities receive warnings when human convicts escape? When one of us is loose in people-inhabited areas, including a zoo, there should be an official alarm. Mr. Smith is correct that unattended children could’ve been killed. It’s most fortunate his daughter escaped with but a scratch. We’re tough and aggressive critters who break into poultry houses and eat chickens and ducks and their eggs and their feed and storm into tents when we’re hungry or merely curious. You can kill as many of us as you want – as the above-mentioned raccoon was captured and quite correctly euthanized – but all your studies have proven we instinctively increase our rate of reproduction when our numbers dwindle.

You don’t want to eliminate us anyway. We’re part of the natural balance you define and fun to shoot. Maybe there’s a sliver of luck in being selected for life in a zoo, where raccoons sometimes live for twenty years. In the wild the average is but two or three years. Also, this zoo offers a cage that I call rural chic, featuring several hollowed out sections of trees that we favor, both vertical and horizontal, branches to walk on, a very fine stone wading pool, and hammocks where my two fellow raccoons are lounging today. I commend people for offering us a finer prison than we would ever offer you. But I cannot forget that your bald eagle, so noble when viewed straight on yet so sad in profile, will never soar again, nor will the four-hundred-fifty pound brown bear lumber through a forest, nor the bobcats dash across mountains, pouncing on prey. That’s why I think you should forever close all zoos. If you want to see animals, visit them in the wild.

George Thomas Clark

George Thomas Clark is the author of Hitler Here, a biographical novel published in India and the Czech Republic as well as the United States. His commentaries for GeorgeThomasClark.com are read in more than 50 countries a month.

Recent Commentary

Books

HITLER HERE is a well researched and lyrically written biographical novel offering first-person stories by the Fuehrer and a variety of other characters. This intimate approach invites the reader to peer into Hitler’s mind, talk to Eva Braun, joust with Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler, debate with the generals, fight on land and at sea and…
See More
Art history and fiction merge to reveal the lives and emotions of great painters Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William H. Johnson, Lee Krasner, and many others.
See More
This fast-moving collection blends fiction and movie history to illuminate the stimulating lives and careers of noted actors, actresses, and directors. Stars of this book include Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, and Spike Lee.
See More
In this collection of thirty-eight chiseled short stories, George Thomas Clark introduces readers to actors, alcoholics, addicts, writers famous and unknown, a general, a lovelorn farmer, a family besieged by cancer, extraterrestrials threatening the world, a couple time traveling back to a critical battle, a deranged husband chasing his wife, and many more memorable people…
See More
Where Will We Sleep
Determined to learn more about those who fate did not favor, the author toured tattered, handmade refuges of those without homes and interviewed them on the streets and in homeless shelters, and conversed with the poor in the United States, Mexico, Ecuador, and Spain, and on occasion wrote composite stories to illuminate their difficult lives.
See More
In lucid prose author George Thomas Clark recalls the challenges of growing up in a family beset by divorce, depression, and alcoholism, and battling similar problems as an adult.
See More
Let’s invite many of the greatest boxers and their contemporaries to tell their own stories, some true, others tales based on history. The result is a fascinating look into the lives and battles of those who thrilled millions but often ruined themselves while so doing.
See More
In a rousing trip through the worlds of basketball and football, George Thomas Clark explores the professional basketball league in Mexico, the Herculean talents of Wilt Chamberlain, the artistry of LeBron James, the brilliance of Bill Walsh, and lots more. Half the stories are nonfiction and others are satirical pieces guided by the unwavering hand of an inspired storyteller.
See More
Get on board this collection of satirical stories, based on news, about the entertaining but absurd and often quite dangerous events following the election of President Donald J. Trump in November 2016 until January 6, 2021, shortly after his loss to Joe Biden.
See More
Join Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other notables on a raucous ride into a fictional world infused with facts from one of the roughest political races in modern U.S. history.
See More
History and literary fiction enliven the Barack Obama phenomenon from the African roots of his father and grandfather to the United States where young Obama struggles to control vices and establish his racial identity. Soon, the young politician is soaring but under fire from a variety of adversaries including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh.
See More
These satirical columns allow startlingly candid Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush to explain their need to control the destinies of countries, regions, and, ultimately, the world. Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove, and other notables, not all famous, also demand part of the stage.
See More
In search of stimulating stories, the author interviewed prostitutes in Madrid, Mexico City, Havana, and Managua and on many boulevards in the United States, and he talked to detectives and rode the rough roads of social workers who deal with human trafficking, which is contemporary slavery, and sometimes used several lives to create stories, and everywhere he ventured he witnessed struggles of those whose lives are bound In Other Hands.
See More
In compressed language Clark presents a compilation of short stories and creative columns about relationships between men and women.
See More