How did a building-scaling raccoon captivate a nation, leaving millions glued to their Twitter feeds for the better part of a day and well into the evening?
— Ben (@Johnson88Ben) June 12, 2018
Reporters and the rest of us posted with bated breath—following tweeted updates, images, and, eventually, a live stream—as the “MPR Raccoon” climbed higher and higher up the wall of the UBS Plaza building in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Journalists covered the story from the Minnesota Public Radio building directly across the street, keeping us updated throughout the day with new images, one even tweeting that his family dropped off a change of clothes so that he could continue covering the story. This raccoon was the top-trending Twitter news nearly all day and night.
— KARE 11 (@kare11) June 12, 2018
— Marisa DeCandido (@MarisaKARE11) June 13, 2018
At one point in the evening, she came back down, only to head back up to the 23rd floor while people furiously tweeted their concerns. She was eventually rescued, nearly a day later, after she reached the roof.
It may have been a perfect combination of the right time and the right place—the raccoon was scaling a building across the street from media offices after all, so the images were newsworthy from nearly every floor.
But it felt like something more. People were so invested in the journey of MPR Raccoon that many posted that they would not be able to go on if the animal were to drop to her untimely death. And there’s the kicker.
If something happens to the #mprraccoon, no one tell me because I do not have the emotional resilience for that today.
— Kara Lynum (@karalynum) June 12, 2018
And then there are the stories of runaway cows or other animals who suffer in farms or roadside zoos. When a cow escaped from a slaughterhouse in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens in New York City back in 2016, people on Twitter cheered and roared with admiration for this animal. These were the very same people who—let’s be honest—might have eaten some version of the runaway cow’s family members earlier that day.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 22, 2016
What is this cognitive dissonance between the animals people love to see escape the shackles of our society and the ones they disregard every day and consider to be either pests or dinner?
If only everyone would keep rooting for the raccoons of the world, whether they be a building-scaling hero or simply a mother navigating a neighborhood with her kits. And if only people would keep cheering for cows, pigs, and chickens, whether they’ve escaped their impending slaughterhouse death or just want to live a natural life with their babies.