Sunday, February 24, 2008

Adult Raccoon Material

Frequent correspondent Bob Levy writes:

Caution: This Report Contains Adult Raccoon Material. Parental Guidance Recommended.

This arguably voyeuristic and slightly out of focus picture was taken in Central Park at the height of the Northeastern Raccoon mating season. The fuzzy image testifies to exuberance the couple exhibited.

Three nights later I was back at the same spot witnessing more mating behaviors but there was no way to know if the participants were the same. After they separated I observed the male’s rejection by another female and her subsequent selection of a second male. She welcomed the newcomer by gracefully waving her bushy tail and calling to him from thirty feet above the ground. Her rejected would be lover left as the second male climbed up to her. He wasted no time responding to her and as he got behind her she turned her head toward his. They jerkily pressed their snouts together and made a series of snarly sounds. Then she sang out another chorus of her mating call and copulation began. It then occurred to me that these two had selected a poor location for this activity. The branch on which they stood was very thin. As the thought passed I heard a short sharp crack. The branch snapped off and the male dropped toward the ground. I shouted “NO!” out loud as he plummeted but to my, and no doubt his relief, his fall was stopped by another thin branch about ten feet below. It seemed the crisis had passed but then came second short sharp crack. The male dropped another twenty feet and he smacked into the ground with a heavy thud. It was too dark to see where he had landed and I expected the worst because there were several large rocks around the base of the tree. I pulled a flashlight out of my pocket and scanned area but did not see him. Out of the corner of my eye I detected movement a few yards away and to my amazement saw the victim walk away into the brush and out of sight. I can only hope that he did not suffer any serious injuries but It’s hard to believe that there would not repercussions from such a fall.

And the moral of the story? ...(brace yourself)... I trust the couple had learned an invaluable lesson about selecting an appropriate place to mate. In fact... (here it comes)...from now on I hope they practice safe sex.