Only 1 in every 10,000-20,000 raccoons is born with ᴀʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ. Aʟʙɪɴɪsᴍ is an inherited ɢᴇɴᴇᴛɪᴄ condition characterized by the inability to produce melanin, the ᴘɪɢᴍᴇɴᴛ in hair, skin and eyes. In late June 2015, workers in an Ashland factory moved a piece of machinery and frightened away an adult raccoon. Later that day, they discovered Meeko, only a few days old and in need of help. It was clear Meeko’s mother had rejected him. Meeko was taken to a wildlife rehabilitator to be hand raised. Because the young raccoon had imprinted with humans, he became too tame for release back into the wild. Meeko came to live at the Museum in late October 2015 at 4 months old.
Being ᴀʟʙɪɴᴏ is not ideal for any wild animal. Aʟʙɪɴᴏ animals are often rejected by their kin, are more susceptible to predators due to their inability to camouflage, and have poor vision, making it extra difficult to find food and avoid ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ. Since his arrival, the Museum’s Division of Wildlife Resources has been working diligently to socialize Meeko with our adult raccoons Nobbum and Kelly, both 14 years old.
One of Meeko’s favorite things to do is eat! Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters with 40 teeth that help them devour almost anything. Meeko enjoys a variety of protein such as ground meat, mice, worms, eggs and fish, along with vegetables, omnivore biscuits, fruits and occasional treats.
Being a youthful 1-year-old, Meeko is quite rambunctious and full of energy! The young raccoon thoroughly enjoys the stimuli and enrichment activities that wildlife staff provide. Raccoons have a remarkable sense of touch because of their dexterous fingers, and Meeko is entertained by interacting with anything he can get his paws on. Often, he will spend long periods of time playing in tubs of water with toys or seasʜᴇʟʟs and digging in a variety of substrates for his ᴅɪᴇt. He loves to roll around balls, wrestle with stuffed animals, and play with ice cubes. Meeko, like all raccoons, is an exceptional climber and his favorite places to relax are in his hammock or elevated milk crates and buckets.
Raccoons are very intelligent animals that learn quickly. Since Meeko’s arrival, wildlife staff have been keeping his mind stimulated with enrichment and training. He has perfected going into his kennel for shifting and veterinary visits. He is currently being trained to “station” (stand in a designated place) and “target” (boop a ball with his nose). This type of training allows the Wildlife Resources team to move more easily through an animal’s enclosure, and direct the animal to certain parts of their habitat. Meeko is also receiving tactile training to assist with veterinary procedures, such as trimming his nails.