Why TWRA Was Right to Confiscate Rebekah the Raccoon

If you’re a lover of animals, you’ve probably heard the story of Mark “Coon Rippy” Brown of Gallatin, Tennessee. Mr. Brown describes himself as a wildlife rescuer, and his videos of him with former raccoon pal Gunshow and more recent raccoon pal Rebekah made him an internet sensation. He was lined up to star in a reality show with Gunshow just before the animal’s death.

Mr Brown in the shower with Rebekah. A video of this was posted on YouTube
Mr Brown in the shower with Rebekah. A video of this was posted on YouTube

But Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency agents confiscated Rebekah two weeks ago, because it’s against the law to possess wild animals in the state without a special permit, and Mr. Brown doesn’t have one.

Mr. Brown says he rescued Rebekah and has cared for her, and he wants her back. He’s launched a social media campaign, complete with Facebook page and numerous TV and radio interviews. Many people have signed on in support of his efforts.

But I say Rebekah should not be returned to him.

Wild animals are not pets and should not be treated as such. It’s against the law to own wild animals for a reason, and when people decide they are above the law and bring these animals into their homes, they put the animal, their neighbors, and themselves at risk of disease, property damage, and attack.

A video of Mr. Brown dancing with Gunshow got over a million hits and garnered him a reality TV show.
A video of Mr. Brown dancing with Gunshow got over a million hits and garnered him a reality TV show. Gunshow died before the show launched.

Wild animals survive by instinct, and even though a young animal may be docile and compliant, that animal’s temperament will most likely change once he or she reaches puberty. What happens to the animal then? There are almost no rehabilitation programs that will take the animal in, and it cannot be returned to the wild, so it will either live its life in a cage or it will have to be euthanized.

Did you know it’s illegal in some states (and not recommended in any) to feed wildlife? You do those animals no favors when you leave out food for them. The food is not formulated for their unique dietary needs, so they can become ill. The animals become accustomed to being around humans, and can harass neighbors and harm pets.

Please don't feed wildlife! You put them at great risk by doing so!
Please don’t feed wildlife! You put them at great risk by doing so! (commons.wikimedia.org)

Even feeding birds and squirrels can draw mice, rats, and larger animals that prey on the ones you’re feeding. A sick animal can easily spread disease to other animals at communal feeding sites. If you do feed birds and squirrels, it’s recommended you only do so in winter.

If you see a wild animal that you think is orphaned, don’t be so quick to move. Sometimes the parent is really nearby and waiting for you to leave. If you know the animal is truly orphaned, you should contact your wildlife agency and follow their directives, even if they tell you to leave the animal to let nature take its course. 

Wild animals that become used to being around humans can cost you or your neighbors lots of money. (http://pestraccoonremoval.com/)
Wild animals that become used to being around humans can cost you or your neighbors lots of money. (pestraccoonremoval.com/)

For now, Rebekah is being rehabilitated at Walden’s Puddle, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Joelton, Tennessee. If she remains there, she will learn how to be a raccoon and may eventually be able to be released into the wild.

If she’s returned to Mr. Brown, she will be exploited to make Mr. Brown famous on YouTube and on television.

Which do you think is the better choice for her?

This is how nature intended Rebekah to live. (Picstopin.com)
This is how nature intended Rebekah to live. (Picstopin.com)

42 thoughts on “Why TWRA Was Right to Confiscate Rebekah the Raccoon

  1. What is this idiot thinking..wild animals indeed need to remain wild,we have decided as humans to domesticate dogs and cats and look how responsible we are..i may jokingly talk about my babies as if they were human but not for one minute to I really believe that.My dogs are dogs,canines relatives of wolves and as such will behave accordingly my cats are felines and as such behave as that.I don’t feed the native birds here all I provide is water,i don’t put feed out for the Kangaroos or we would have a huge problem..we make them reliant on us and then we have problems and they pay the price..i have seen this overseas with bears,with people being attacked by ‘pet chimps’ and as much as he was Australian I believe that Steve Irwin also pushed the boundaries too far.I hope this putz does not get this poor creature back.

      1. Well if he’s got a contract with a reality TV show, you know he’s got media handlers helping him to look sympathetic. It’s all about money ya know.

      2. Naturally …amazing what people will stoop to in order for the almighty buck!!! …Why am I ever surprised…I mean really the older I get the less things make sense…people..sheesh.

  2. A great post! In Sweden I’m in conflict with similar people who kidnap animals and keep them in captivity whole their Life. Indeed most ” abandoned ” animals are not abandoned at all . Wildlife’s mothers are not staying with their Young ones very much time because the parents smell attracks predators. I have pointed out this for wildlife rehabilitators and they have responded to me with Death threats. I have had a body guard. You can read about it under ” Ragnhild Jacobsson” in my blog.

  3. Completely ridiculous… Mr Brown wants the Rebekah the Raccoon back so he can fulfill his TV commitments…
    yeah right… tell someone who cares….

  4. Wild animals belong in the wild. They belong in their natural environment for which they are well adjusted. Any other way life imposed on them is animal abuse. I am glad in my country it’s illegal to have a wild animal in one’s home. But there are always people who pretend animals have a better life in the company of humans in a cramped environment …
    Go go go Rumpy ! Keep the spirit !

  5. its one thing to take care of wild animal that is injured and you can give a habitat to live in that that is safe for it but maintaining its wild needs for rehibilitation and another to do what this bloke is doing,xx Rachel

  6. A wild animal belongs in the wild. I know that supporters of his use the excuse once upon a time every animal was wild but it is so wrong. Some animals have been domesticated, others have not. And for good reason too. I hope that Rebekah quickly remembers what nature intended her to be and is running free and leaving a wonderful life in the wild eventually.

    ~ Amy

  7. We suppose there are two sides to the story…. butt WILD animals are DIFFERENT from Domesticated ones and THAT is the thing that should be considered.

  8. I think that having wild animals as a pet is egoism of humans…..humans probably feel happy and are proud of rare animals if they have it as a pet but those animals maybe feel unhappy and might get shorter lives…..
    This guy doesn’t seem to be a lover of animals if we consider what he does…. 😦

  9. I agree raccoons and other wildlife should not be kept as pets. Here is another reason to consider as to why it is not a good idea – The feces of Raccoons can carry some deadly parasites such as Baylisascaris procyonis or viruses such as canine distemper. I used to volunteer at a wildlife rescue and the requirement to wear rubber boots and rubber gloves when we cleaned the coon pens was very strongly enforced.

  10. Hi,
    I just LUV your DOG!! Just because an animal looks CUTE doesn’t mean a person has the RIGHT to take it out of it’s Natural Habitat and make it a PET to make money off of!! Hollywood/Movies do enough of that ALREADY!
    Rebekah should be released back into the wild. NOT to mention the Diseases wild animals may carry as well!
    Thanks for a great Story….Your New FAN! Author, Catherine Lyon 🙂 :0

  11. There was a show a while back on the Animal Planet called “Fatal Attractions.” It highlighted people who tried to make pets of wild animals. The results in those cases were always – as the title implied – fatal.

  12. The better choice is to have her rehabbed. He is no animal rescuer if he is keeping her as a pet, he is no better than the football player that purchased a tiger. I wish they would lock people away for trying to own wild animals.

  13. Definitely rehabilitation and released back in the wild, I am sure lots of people would love to have cute wild animals but it is cruel to deprive them of there freedom.

  14. We feed the birds and squirrels just so they will stay out of the garden. But there is times when she can go for days without feeding them and they do just fine. We do like to keep birds in the yard so they help with the pesky bugs that want to destroy the flowers.

  15. I guess people have never heard of exotic pets, raccons can make great pets as can skunks and other “wild life” and if you want to get down to it maybe they should just rip away all our beloved dogs and cats cause well they were wild at some point and all descended from wolves. Better release all the zoo animals too they are wild animals…. my god people he was trying to help, let him get a permit and have his animal its not that big a deal. Ive helped my share of wild animals when no one else would and game and wildlife or animal control. We need to do what we can. If this was a DOG no one would be ok with it being taken away! I could see if he wasnt taking care of it or something but come on people!

  16. “If she’s returned to Mr. Brown, she will be exploited to make Mr. Brown famous on YouTube and on television.

    Which do you think is the better choice for her?”

    Easy to answer THAT one!! Wild life expectancy has an upper range of 3.1 years. Rugged, hard scrabble, fight-for-your-food years. Mark’s first raccoon lived to age 4, and was fat and happy and well taken care of. If Mark keeps Rebekah from gaining so much weight, she could live to be 15. In a warm, safe, dry home.

    It’s a no brainer for me. You on the other hand, sticking to the ‘letter of the law’ like a typical spineless modern american, instead of standing up and fighting for change that actually makes sense, seem to have less brain than the raccoons I interact with daily.

    1) they are not a real threat, and that’s the homeowners choice to make, NOT the govt’s
    2) if the raccoon makes trouble with neighbors, step in THEN, just like with other troublesome pets
    3) a domestic raccoon will undoubtedly live a longer and healthier life than it’s wild counterpart.

    You animal rights people get so wrapped up in the philosophy of it all, you forget that an actual creature is in fear of euthanization because one of your brethren outed it’s caretaker to the TWRA.

    First the fawn, now this. TWRA is stepping in it this month, and making the state look like a gestapo force of morons with nothing better to do than intrude on the private lives of it’s citizenry.

    You’re on the losing side on this one, man.

  17. First of all I did not take this animal from the wild……An AG Teacher at a local school had the mother killed by 2 students, several blows to the head with a length of steel pipe. Later they found 4 babies, which one made it to me to be raised, Rebekah was without sight and bottle fed. The Ag Teacher should have taught the kids about Capture, relocate and release, not beating the mother over the head until she was dead.

  18. Lots of opinions here by people who know next to nothing about wildlife. Raccoons actually make pretty good companions, and I’ve known a couple of people who had them. Fascinating critters.

    All of you who think wild animals belong in the wild, I want there to be plenty of animals in the wild, but I also want more of us to INTERACT with them — to lessen the fear, and the utter ignorance of city people when it comes to wildlife. Our one bit of knowledge seems to be that everything is a danger to us, and the instant someone gets a scratch, to kill the offending animal.

    Early Native Americans lived with and among the wildlife, and they had both deep knowledge and respect for the animals around them. We have ignorance and fear … and this constant “Oh, they’re dangerous! They need to stay wild!” is part of the continuous stupid pitch that keeps us separate, keeping us from learning about them, respecting them, and cherishing them.

    I see this guy dancing with his raccoon buddy, and I see a raccoon very happy to be right where he is. Otherwise, he could climb off that porch and be gone in two seconds.

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