‘That’s no raccoon’

Exotic animal finds way to High Point home
Jul. 31, 2013 @ 06:52 PM

“I have never seen anything like it before, and I have lived almost 83 years.”
That’s how Christine Haude describes the sight she saw Friday morning when she stepped onto her back porch on Trinity Avenue to figure out why her dog, Whoopi, was making quite a racket.
It seemed the dog had come upon something that didn’t belong there. Or in this country, for that matter.
“I let the dog out and she just whimpered on the porch. She knew there was something wrong. Then something fell,” Haude said. “She ran and started barking. I followed her, and there was this animal I have never seen before. I said, ‘That’s no raccoon I’ve ever seen, or no possum.’”
Haude rushed back into the house and called her nephew’s house where she reached one of her relatives who was able to get the animal into a garbage can. They then called High Point Police Animal Control to come get it.
“It looked mad, and all I could see was his teeth,” Haude said. “Every time they tried to put the catch pole around its neck, it would push it off. Somebody must have bought it as a pet.”
The animal control officer informed her that the animal was a kinkajou. The animals are native to the tropical forest of Central and South America, where they spend most of their time in trees, according to National Geographic.
On average, they weigh up to 7 pounds and have a tail that grips and often is used as another arm that helps with balance. The animal is closely related to a raccoon.
They eat honey, termites, fruit and small mammals. Normally, they feed at night and return each morning to sleep in a tree hole.
Haude said she was a little alarmed when she noticed the animal on the porch.
“I started to shoot it, but I remembered that I was in the city,” Haude said. “I did not got back out there, though, until it was gone. I admit that if it was dark, it would have scared me to death.”
Haude said she had noticed her garden was not producing as much as it usually did this summer, but never could figure out the cause. Now she suspects who the culprit may have been.
“Until this year, I had been getting all that I could eat,” Haude said. “I would go out there this year and all the food would be gone. I feel like this little critter has been around this area for some time and eating my vegetables. If I hadn’t covered some of them with a bucket, I wouldn’t have gotten anything.”
Animal control took the kinkajou to the Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. The center is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary that houses kinkajous along with different types of wildcats.
cdavis@hpe.com | 888-3657