Our raccoons aren’t just any raccoons

Photo by Amanda Davis

Photos by Amanda Davis

A lot of visitors ask why the Zoo has raccoons on exhibit, saying “If I wanted to see a raccoon, I would just look out in my backyard.” While this may be true, I guarantee you do not have raccoons quite like Willow, Buffy and Xander in your backyard!

Our raccoons came from Disney and were a part of a show there. We had hoped in our summer stage show, however that did not end up happening. Instead, they get to lounge about at their leisure and venture around when they see fit. You may notice they spend more time lounging than running about. We do give them a lot of different enrichment: puzzle feeders, where they have to work for their food.This gives them physical and mental exercise. They are very smart and crafty animals that need to be challenged and stimulated.

Raccoon (3)Since they are so smart and food motivated, they catch on to training behaviors very quickly. They are trained to shift on and off of exhibit, into and out of their den; have a litter box that they use every day and are target trained to touch their hands and nose to the end of a target pole. The trio is also trained to sit on a scale to be weighed. Buffy is one that sometimes won’t get off the scale because she is looking for more rewards. The newest behavior they are working on is injection training, and they are doing very well with that.

Raccoon (1)Although they are food motivated, they are extremely picky. They only like apples, pears, grapes, blueberries, and occasionally, pineapple. They turn their noses up at strawberries, peaches, watermelon, plums and other fruits. They will eat cooked sweet potato every once and a while, but refuse other vegetables. They also don’t like honey, and will only eat sweetened cereals. They occasionally eat yogurt, baby food and jello. They do like hard-boiled eggs and the carnivore diet meat and thankfully seem to enjoy their dog food, which is the bulk of their diet.

Buffy, Willow and Xander may look like the average raccoon that you might see in your back yard, but they are far from average. They are very smart, picky, adorable little mischief makers that are hard not to love.

– Amanda Davis, zoo keeper