Raccoon climbs up side of skyscraper as world watches with bated breath, then is captured and released to wild

A raccoon in Minnesota got its 15 minutes of fame after climbing up the side of a skyscraper Tuesday. The world watched online as the adorable little trash panda scaled more than 25 stories of St. Paul's UBS building.

The New York Times:

It all started when maintenance workers at an office tower in downtown St. Paul, Minn., found the raccoon curled up on a ledge on Tuesday afternoon. After it was roused, the creature took off — and scaled the side of the building. An audience gathered on the street below — and on Twitter — to watch the hourslong attempt to stop it. While some cheered for the animal, others warned that they were vicious.

"Do not be fooled by their attempts to be cute," one user wrote. "This building climbing scheme was just part of their nefarious plot to take over the world. Stay vigilant!"

Officials managed to bait and trap the raccoon, and they released it into the wild.

Earlier, though, the outcome was far from certain.


The raccoon was spotted more than 20 stories above street level, in a downtown escapade that our colleagues at Minnesota Public Radio tracked closely — it was, after all, just across the street from them, giving them front-row seats as the animal avoided death and capture with equal aplomb.

Dubbed the #mprraccoon on Twitter, the raccoon drew thousands of breathless observers as it scampered, scaled and explored its unlikely high-rise habitat. Its occasional naps were followed closely, analyzed for clues about its mental state, hopes and dreams.

Wildlife Management Services safely caught the critter by luring it with cat food early on Wednesday morning.

Then someone made this video, set to the Mission Impossible theme, of the day's dramatic events.

Suzanne MacDonald, a raccoon behavior expert at York University in Toronto, suggests that the #mprraccoon made the unwise climb due to poor impulse control:

"Raccoons don't think ahead very much, so raccoons don't have very good impulse control," she said, admitting she could barely sleep she was so worried about the animal. "I don't think the raccoon realized when it started climbing what it was in for."

The raccoon's journey echoes that of other people. CNN:

This animal drama may seem trivial, but the emotion and attention it aroused carry lessons for us in America today. For many other small creatures are now in the midst of journeys they never expected to take, which are unlikely to have the good outcome of #MPRraccoon's. I am thinking of the children of migrant families who in the last month, in accordance with a new policy of President Donald Trump's administration, have been forcibly separated from all that is familiar to them, who are on their own journeys of survival, too terrified to fully rest, and often too young to understand what is happening to them and why.