An amazing opportunity to get up close and personal to everyones favourite superhero.
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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Procyon lotor
most common location: USA and Canada
CONSERVATION STATUS: Least Concern
The raccoon (Procyon lotor), is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of 40 to 70 cm (16 to 28 in) and a body weight of 3.5 to 9 kg (8 to 20 lb). Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather. Two of the raccoon’s most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythology of several Native American ethnic groups. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for up to three years. The diet of the omnivorous raccoon, which is usually nocturnal, consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates.
The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests. As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across mainland Europe, Caucasia, and Japan.
Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders. Home range sizes vary anywhere from 3 hectares (7.4 acres) for females in cities to 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres) for males in prairies. After a gestation period of about 65 days, two to five young, known as “kits”, are born in spring. The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall. Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years. In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death. [Credit: Wikipedia]
It is a polygamous omnivore with few natural predators, save for birds of prey. The striped skunk has a long history of association with humans, having been trapped and captively bred for its fur and kept as an exotic pet. It is one of the most recognizable of North America’s animals, and is a popular figure in cartoons and children’s books. [Credit: Wikipedia]
The raccoon dog, also known as the mangut or tanuki, is a canid indigenous to East Asia. It is the only extant species in the genus Nyctereutes. It is considered a basal canid species, resembling ancestral forms of the family.
Among the Canidae, the raccoon dog shares the habit of regularly climbing trees only with the North American gray fox, another basal species. The raccoon dog is named for its superficial resemblance to the raccoon (Procyon lotor), to which it is not closely related.
Native East Asian raccoon dog populations have declined in recent years due to hunting, fur trade, urbanization, the increase of animals associated with human civilization (such as pets and abandoned animals) and diseases that may be transmitted between them. Following its introduction into central and western Europe, however, it has been treated as a potentially hazardous invasive species. [credits: Wikipedia]
During the hour long experience, you’ll start by meeting our friendly Raccoon Dogs and feeding our Coati’s from the outside of their enclosure. You’ll then move onto our Striped Skunks who are always happy for a cuddle before finally meeting Little Bear our titular Raccoon.
The first animal you’ll meet are our Raccoon Dogs – these fantastic animals are not at all related to Raccoons but share similar looks. During your time with them you’ll get to hand feed them and learn all about their wild habits.
The next animal you will meet is on our skunks who are always happy for a cuddle. They live with our Virginia Opossum (one of the only ones in a zoo in the UK) so during this time you will also get the opportunity to see him up close.
You’ll finish the experience with Little Bear the Raccoon. Raccoons are fascinating animals and thanks to a certain superhero are currently top of many peoples ‘Bucket List’. However, during your time with Bear you will be taught all about how these animals act in the wild and will be invited to hand feed and possibly stroke him (should he be happy to do so).
Please be aware that as our animals welfare is of utmost importance and we are privileged to be able to get so close to these species – we will not force our animals to do anything against their nature and all interaction is done on their terms.