Somehow, there are over a million of raccoons in Germany. Over. A. Million. How have I never met one? I love them so much. Once I decided to adopt a raccoon (otherwise known as Patenschaft, where you make a monthly donation to an animal shelter) for my bae, everyone wanted to come along to visit them on a private shelter farm.
Let me tell you first how hard it was to find trustworthy people who would talk to me about their raccoons at all, let alone see them. They are definitely not used to people who just want to pet a raccoon; rather, they’re used to mass murderers who like to throw poison bait through their windows (which is also why I cannot disclose the location, but if you continue on, I will tell you where you can make donations to).
The family we visited are a private Gnadenhof – a mercy farm for animals who are lost, have been treated badly, or are orphaned. They take in those furry raccoons and dogs (and one otter) and treat them kindly: with love, fresh fruits and lots of nuts. They have built an amazing shelter for them, part indoors, part outdoors. They live entirely off their own income and donations. And yes, we made sure that this was an “official” station, as verified by the health office and veterinary ministry. It was great to see our donations go to such a loving place.
Every raccoon and every dog in the shelter has a story. I have no idea how those furry balls can be ever kept apart (apart from the Albino raccoon). They have hilarious names – from Ella to Gustav and Vincent and I don’t even remember the rest. All in all, there are more than 40 raccoons in the shelter.
They are wild cannonballs, but had kind of a sloth-ish Koala vibe with a twist of Panda (three animals I have yet to see and cuddle with). When they grabbed for the little snacks we brought them, they used their hands gently. Apart from a little bit of hair tugging and curious nibbling at the shoes, there was nothing threatening, icky or dangerous about them.
Although their 15 little adorable puppies – orphans who were brought to the farm in an act of mercy – were heartbreaking, we had more fun hanging around with the fat grown ups. They’re really a lot like cats and dogs, incredibly smart and cheeky as hell. I don’t get why I can’t keep a raccoon as a pet but it’s totally fine for people to have a naked ass, ugly ass fucking Chihuaua? And what about those horse-sized Danish doggos? People keep horses, for fucks sake, and rats and bugs, but a RACCOON is NOT a pet? THEY HAVE REAL HANDS!
Nobody pooped on us, either, which was all in all the cherry on top of the trip.
A raccoon’s plight
Ultimately, although our raccoon visit started with a simple donation in a moment of jest, we were all humbled to see to what lengths people went to save threatened animals (not their species is threatened, but every individual raccoon). They have literally rebuilt their house to accommodate these animals that would otherwise be shot, poisoned or trapped by humans. There was a moment during our trip in which I felt naive – this wasn’t a petting zoo, after all. We were having fun in a private rescue shelter. What kind of stupid millenial hipster assholes do that?
But we were reassured by the owners. The raccoons enjoy interaction with humans, even more so if accompanied by healthy snacks. And the family appreciated our curiousness about the raccoons, and our heartfelt giggles and honest squeaks, because apparently, that’s not how people usually react to raccoons. Raccoons, after all, are a plague.
But it was humans who brought them here, who bred and kept them for the fur industry. In Germany, the WWII was mostly responsible for the big outbreak out raccoons into the wild. When the farms were destroyed, they escaped into the wild. Nowadays it’s illegal to keep a raccoon in any which way; rangers are free to shoot them.
If you’d like to help the raccoons (and many other pets that are regularly saved in and around Berlin, such as birds, fawns, turtles, cats and dogs), please donate here for visits to the vet, surgeries, food and other living expenses:
Gnadenhof & Wildtierrettung Notkleintiere e.V. [1. This is the institution that organizes the donations, not the family that keeps the raccoons]
or via Paypal