Those cute and cuddly creatures known as raccoons are a blithesome sight indeed as they scamper through the fragile green of New York City parks. Their masked visage makes them particularly attractive amongst our four-legged friends and, for animal lovers, draws a special kind of affection from us as we observe them go about their routine lives…perceived by us to be simply frolicsome carelessness.
Unfortunately, these adorable animations, enlivening our strolls through the park, are, after all is said and done, not playthings but wild animals; they’re also potential hosts to one of nature’s most dreaded diseases: rabies.
Over the past three months, at least three rabies-infected raccoons were found in Central Park. This is the first discovery of a rabid animal in Manhattan in six years (the majority of cases are found in the Bronx and Staten Island) and it’s not certain how these particular raccoons found their way into the Park; a few experts believe that they were “dropped off” there.
Dog walkers have been warned to keep their animals on a leash and visitors to the park told not to touch or feed wild animals, including stray cats and dogs, and to stay away from any aggressive, sick or unusually friendly animals.