As if 2018 couldn’t get any more weird and stressful, emotions escalated on Tuesday, June 12 when an unassuming raccoon attempted to scale a skyscraper in St. Paul, Minneapolis. People had feelings about the tiny heroic climber, and fans around the world quickly rallied around #mprraccoon (as he came to be known by the Twitterverse). After watching him defy death all day, I went to sleep wondering if the viral raccoon in Minnesota is OK. The internet can now breath a collective sigh of relief, because #mprraccoon is reportedly safe and enjoying his status as the breakout social media star of the moment.
In the early hours of Wednesday, June 13, the building took to Twitter to confirm that the raccoon had been captured by Wildlife Management and rewarded with a "delicious meal of soft cat food," according to NPR. News outlets quickly took to the social media platform to share videos of #mprraccoon’s final climb to the pinnacle of the USB building, and the internet rejoiced.
It all began days earlier when the small raccoon first started his precarious ascent of the skyscraper, complete with daring maneuvers and narrow escapes. According to Tweets from Minnesota Public Radio News reporter, Tim Nelson, the drama began when the little critter was looking for a mid-day snack on Monday by the Town Square Building. He skillfully evaded attempts at capture and quickly scampered up the USB building, scaling about 20 stories by Tuesday afternoon (despite all odds and the elevation). By this point, the ‘coon had become an unlikely hero and the world breathlessly watched as #mprraccoon — who reportedly hadn’t had any food or water for two days, according to Nelson — slowly hiked to the peak.
As the building has no windows that can open, helpless employees could only sit and watch as he climbed, and the anxiety was palpable. The furry critter soon had his own Twitter account ("I made a big mistake," he told his 3,000 plus followers), and even Mayor Melvin Carter took to the social media platform to share some words of hope.
Everything seemed to be going well until #mprraccoon stopped on floor 23 for a nap and a quick grooming session. Despite his precarious climb, he seemed pretty relaxed.
However, as night fell, the raccoon was hit with some indecision. He started to retrace his steps back down the building, then changed his mind and climbed up to the 17th floor. Many street watchers and online fans expressed their concern that he’d gotten stuck, and Twitter sprang into action, calling for a grand rescue by helicopter or even hot air balloon. Unfortunately, attempts to grab the raccoon with any equipment would probably frighten it. Plus, the city was not willing to risk the life of a firefighter, Laurie Brickley, a spokesperson for the St. Paul Animal Control Department, told BuzzFeed. All they could do was lay out some traps and cat food, and wait.
To say people were heavily emotionally involved at this point is an understatement.
While the city went to bed uncertain of the fate of their unlikely hero, they woke up with some good news. As I mentioned before, #mprraccoon had been captured, as seen by a video clip of the critter finally climbing to the top late at night, and he was safe and sound in the custody of St. Paul Animal Control.
Whew! What a saga. Now that the unlikely news-maker has been rescued, I hope he’s released somewhere with lots of trees so he can continue his climbing shenanigans and adorable stunts in a safer spot. After all, now that he’s a breakout social media star, I bet #mprraccoon’s loyal fanbase will want to continue to follow his hijinks around St. Paul, minus the nail-biting stress. Who would have thought that an unassuming trash panda could capture the heart of the country and unite all of us in these difficult times? He’s the (furry) hero we never knew we needed.
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