5 Newborn Raccoons Accidentally Travel From Florida to California After Being Birthed in Moving Van
"When I was driving, I just heard a clicking noise in the back, but I assumed it was something rattling around," the van's driver said.
Long distance travel is exhausting, but these newborn raccoons, who accidentally took a cross-country road trip are well on their way to recovery.
"We've been raising them, bottle feeding them every three hours around the clock, trying to keep them healthy," said Melanie Piazza, the director of animal care at WildCare in San Rafael. "They're completely well adjusted. I'm confident we'll find a place [for them to live]."
The five newborns, whose eyes were still shut when they were found in September, were discovered in the back of a moving van after it traveled for five days from Fort Meyers, Florida, to Stinson Beach, California.
Tim, the driver of the van who would not give a last name, said he had left the vehicle in an long term parking lot in Fort Meyers, and returned days later to find the driver's seat window open.
"I assumed somebody had broken into the van," he told InsideEdition.com.
But noticing that nothing was missing, he began his journey to California.
"When I was driving, I just heard a clicking noise in the back, but I assumed it was something rattling around," he said.
When he opened the van five days later, he noticed the baby raccoons.
"My girlfriend screamed," Tim said. "She thought they were rats at first."
They contacted WildCare, who were able to nurse the babies to health.
But, in the weeks to come, the rescue was faced with another problem.
They said California Department of Fish and Wildlife told them the raccoons can't be released in California, and their only option to release them back into the wild was if they sent the babies to Florida.
However, Florida Fish and Wildlife also refused to take the raccoons back.
They were then given two options: Either euthanize the babies, or find it a permanent home at a zoo.
"Euthanasia was not going to be an option," Piazza said. "They've been through too much."
Piazza explained the babies had gone without food or water for the entire journey, and endured several days in an extremely cold van. While the five newborns made it, one of their siblings, unfortunately, died along the way.
Although the rescue originally wanted to reunite the raccoons with their mom, "once we found out they were not going to be able to go back to the wild, we turned our rearing goals toward making them more habituated to humans, so they would be comfortable in an educational setting," Piazza said.
Piazza said the rescue is now looking into zoos willing to take in the newborns, one of them being Oakland Zoo.
To donate to WildCare's rescue operation, visit their website.
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