by Hope Kosch-Davison
A gentle giant arrived at Wild Baby Rescue Center during Thanksgiving week. He is a raccoon, who at six months old weighs 24.6 pounds, more than double the normal weight of a raccoon his age and clearly has no idea that he is a raccoon. He was kept as a pet. He was fed bags of candy corn and other sweets. He slept in a bed. He was treated like the cat and dog he lived with. He was spoiled with human attention until he grew too big to control and then he was no longer wanted.
Now this gentle giant must become a raccoon. The transition will be sad and difficult for him. His name was Rocky, but in honor of his new life we will call him Hagrid (of the Harry Potter fame).
The first order of business will be to get him on a natural healthy diet and to reduce his weight with exercise. He will spend the winter in a large enclosure in the barn with a bed of hay and lots of tree limbs to climb on. We will also create diversions to keep him from becoming bored and keep him active. Paper towel tubes, cut in pieces and stuffed with natural treats (grapes, banana slices, acorns and dried apricots) will give his hands, and taste buds something new to experience. Rubbing those tubes with spices (mint, cinnamon and allspice) will keep his nose interested and increase his experience with different scents. Pinecones, fur tree branches, and dried corn in husks will add to his wild schooling.
The greatest gift you can give a wild animal is its freedom.