Yesterday, there was a raccoon climbing a 20 plus story building in Minnesota, today it made it to the top and was caught in a live trap for transport to back to the wild.

It brings up the question, why would a raccoon climb a building in the first place?

  • 3
    I saw the news article, earlier today. I suspect that he started up for some unknowable reason, and then found he could not go down, so up was his only option..I look forward to a GOOD answer, that is not speculation. Jun 13, 2018 at 16:40
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    I am surprised that the raccoon was able to climb up what appears to be a rough concrete surface with no real holds. That raccoon is an excellent rock climber :-)
    – Qudit
    Jun 13, 2018 at 20:52
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    "Why would a raccoon climb a building?" To get to the top, obviously. Jun 14, 2018 at 11:28
  • 2
    (Why would a human climb a mountain? ;) )
    – nsandersen
    Jun 20, 2018 at 9:35

2 Answers 2


Tl;Dr it was scared up the building by accident.

the BBC coverage explains what happened quite well:

Evan Frost and Tim Nelson, journalists with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), documented the raccoon's nerve-wracking journey on Twitter.

"One of my colleagues spotted the raccoon on, kind of the ground floor, sitting on a ledge on Monday - it looked like a brown lump, almost like a cat sitting there," Evan Frost told the BBC in the early hours of Wednesday.

"We went out there at about 8:30 on Tuesday morning and saw it was a raccoon. Two workers in the building got out a couple of long planks - sort of making a kind of ladder for it."

But that initial rescue failed - and ended up scaring the animal upwards.

It spent much of Tuesday going up and down the building's floors, occasionally napping on ledges.

Before its final ascent to the roof, it had been slowly making its way down, as an anxious audience watched on into the night.

"It was heartbreaking to see yesterday," Tim Nelson told the BBC on Wednesday. "We couldn't imagine how this would end well for him".

  • According to today's Washington Post, traps were set with cat food on top of the building, the raccoon (a female) "looking a bit bedraggled" was trapped and transported to a wooded area on private land outside the city.
    – ab2
    Jun 14, 2018 at 13:23

As far as the raccoon goes, there really isn't a whole lot out of the ordinary taking place in this story. It's basically a raccoon doing raccoon things.

Raccoons are inquisitive animals and very capable climbers. While I've never seen one climbing a skyscraper, I've regularly spotted them climbing or on upper areas of multistory buildings. Raccoons, especially smaller onces, can climb on brick walls like they're walking across flat ground.

Raccoons are notorious for taking up residence in homes' attic spaces. We're never going to know exactly why it climbed the building, but the critters regularly explore around and look for food, and this one happened to try exploring a skyscraper. Raccoons need to eat, they need to nest, they need to avoid predators, such as coyotes and humans. Perhaps the building's dumpsters were fiercely guarded by a larger rival.

The only somewhat out of the ordinary aspect is that the raccoon was observed in the daytime, as they are normally nocturnal. However, it's not that far out of the ordinary, as raccoons are well adapted to urban areas, and their biological rhythms can change to be more suitable for an urban existence.

This story is really a study in viral media rather than anything to do with raccoons. An animal that happens to look cute just happened to be doing this at a time where someone saw it, where they just happened to take a picture and post it on the internet, and that posting just happened to be seen by someone who just happened to have wider connections to make it onto the news, and so on.

Because raccoons are cute and mischievous, but are not very often seen, it seems as though they regularly pop up in funny news story, such as when a subway line was shut down after a raccoon casually boarded the train, or more sadly when people found it funny to make a memorial to a raccoon's corpse after it laid on the sidewalk for a day.


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