Oakland, CA—On September 1, 2016, five newborn raccoons were brought to WildCare by a man who unknowingly transported them from Fort Meyers, Florida to Stinson Beach, California inside the back of his moving truck. The truck had been burglarized overnight while still in Florida, allowing a pregnant raccoon to enter through a broken window and give birth. The man, upon arriving in Stinson Beach and unloading the truck, discovered five of six baby raccoons, alive but near death after being without food or water for four days on the cross-country trip. One had not survived.
WildCare, a wildlife hospital and environmental education center located in San Rafael, was contacted by the individual and immediately accepted the five babies, determined to be approximately ten days old, and began nursing them back to health. WildCare’s mission is to re-release animals into the wild post-recovery, but in this unusual case it wasn’t an option.
“WildCare's primary goal is always to return our patients to a life in the wild. Our staff spent months raising these five raccoons with that objective. Unfortunately after investigating every avenue possible it was determined that neither release here in California nor transporting them back to Florida would be legally possible due to Fish and Wildlife interstate regulations. We are very grateful that the Oakland Zoo was willing and able to take these five survivors for the next leg of their journey; providing them exceptional care and enrichment until we can find them permanent sanctuary,” said Melanie Piazza, Director of Animal Care, WildCare.
After California Dept. Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) agreed that the raccoons could be placed in a permitted facility (not a private home) following a 90-day quarantine period, WildCare was tasked with finding an AZA-accredited zoo willing to quarantine and care for the raccoons. Oakland Zoo stepped in to take the baby raccoons, and on November 23, 2016, Oakland Zoo vets, vet staff and zookeepers began caring for them at the Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital—providing veterinary care, daily enrichment and socializing them while under quarantine.
“We are so pleased to care for these wonderful, rambunctious raccoons during their 90 day quarantine here at Oakland Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital. It’s a joy to help socialize the youngsters, whose journey so far has been quite remarkable! Thankfully they are doing very well, and we are hoping that their future is a happy and healthy one,” Dr. Karen Emanuelson, DVM, Oakland Zoo.
The raccoons are ‘ridiculously smart’ according to Oakland Zoo’s vet staff, who have been challenged with constantly creating stimulating enrichment to engage and stimulate them. Since arriving, the youngsters have continued to grow and develop, almost doubling in weight. They are healthy, very social, extremely curious, and as discovered during these enrichment-creating sessions, they love playing in water.
WildCare is currently searching for and evaluating permanent placement options for the five raccoons, due to complete their quarantine and leave Oakland Zoo on February 23, 2017. Thus far, no decision has been finalized in determining a permanent facility for them.
WildCare leads the way in showing Bay Area residents how to live well with wildlife through a complete cycle of respectful, practical and humane programs in wildlife medicine and environmental education. Each year WildCare treats as many as 4,000 ill, injured or orphaned wild animals in our wildlife hospital, and teaches more than 40,000 Bay Area children and adults in our environmental education programs. We also assist residents and businesses for whom wildlife has moved a little too close with our WildCare Solutions service, and answer thousands of telephone calls concerning human/wildlife interaction on our Living with Wildlife Hotline – 415-456-SAVE. WildCare is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, located in San Rafael, California.
The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state's remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks."