Raccoon hailed a hero after Minnesota skyscraper climb

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A daredevil raccoon has been safely rescued after leaving the internet on tenterhooks by scaling a 23-floor building in St Paul, Minnesota.

The critter, dubbed #MPRraccoon after the radio station opposite the high-rise, trended worldwide on Twitter.

Crowds gathered at the building after it went viral, and local media streamed its perilous climb for almost a day.

Twitter celebrated as it reached the roof at 03:00am (07:00 BST) where cat food was waiting inside a trap.

The raccoon will be collected and released later by animal welfare.

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.

Photograph of raccoon stretched out on ledge, with sharp drop pictured belowTIM NELSON/ MPR NEWS
Watchers were concerned for the animal’s welfare, and feared he needed food and water

"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".

Twitter post by @efrostee

Evan Frost@efrostee

Replying to @efrostee

He made a run for it! Still stuck though.

5:11 PM – Jun 12, 2018

End of Twitter post by @efrostee

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It has not been confirmed locally if the raccoon is a male or female.

Raccoons are common in the US, but are usually found in alleys or riffling through rubbish bins – leading to the common animal nickname "trash panda".

"I was talking to a wildlife expert yesterday who said there might be a dozen or two dozen of these raccoons in every square mile here in Minnesota – they’re everywhere. But you don’t see them scaling office towers," Mr Nelson said.

A fire official takes photograph of raccoon through glassTIM NELSON/ MPR NEWS
The building’s windows were sealed, and local fire officials said it was too dangerous to attempt a human rescue

Both men were overwhelmed by the global reaction to their posts about the raccoon’s ascent.

"I think it just seems like something a lot of different people can get behind," Mr Frost told the BBC.

"It’s kind of absurd that I took a couple of pictures of an animal that people usually hate and think is disgusting, and all of a sudden it has thousands of retweets and likes."

Mr Nelson grew up in a town called Coon Rapids, named after the mammals.

"To think that one of these little animals would top the trending on Twitter is a complete surprise to me," he said.

Crowds photographing the building and looking upwards on the streetEVAN FROST/ MPR NEWS
Crowds gathered throughout Tuesday day and overnight at the sceneA woman is pictured looking up toward the animalTIM NELSON/MPR NEWS
One woman, Maria Lucia, brought binoculars, and said she was worried about the animal on Tuesday

Both men laughed when asked if they had managed to get any work done during raccoon-watch.

Although the animal was filmed reaching the top shortly before 03:00 local time – it was not officially confirmed safe until five hours later when it was officially found safe inside the trap.

post by @ubs_plazaView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

UBS Plaza@ubs_plaza

After a delicious meal of soft cat food, #mprraccoon has been caught and will be picked up by Wildlife Management. Goodbye friend!

1:29 PM – Jun 13, 2018

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End of Twitter post by @ubs_plaza

The animal has become an unlikely hero for many on Twitter – with users dubbing his unlikely success an inspiration.

James Gunn, who directed Hollywood film Guardians of the Galaxy, which featured a hero raccoon, at one point on Tuesday offered to donate $1,000 (£750) to charity in the name of anyone who was able to save the #MPRraccoon.

A Twitter account in the animal’s name already has over 2,500 followers – and users online have made fan-art and even toys of the animal.

View image on Twitter

Jennifer Brooks

I didn’t stay awake all night making a felt #mprraccoon

YOU stayed awake all night making a felt raccoon and a teeny felt tower.

8:00 AM – Jun 13, 2018

End of Twitter post by @stribrooks

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View image on Twitter

Eugene Gu, MD

Nevertheless, it persisted. #mprraccoon

3:42 AM – Jun 13, 2018

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