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After Raccoon Found In School, Zoo Director Says People, Animals Can Still Co-Exist


Students returned to South Avondale School Friday, after a raccoon incursion this week. CPS officials ordered the school closed Wednesday until the raccoon could be caught and the school cleaned up.

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard says this isn't the first time people and animals have competed for space. "All over the world there are issues with human-wildlife conflict," he says. "The famous ones are wolves on your ranch eating your cows, or an elephant eating somebody's garden in Africa. Right here in the city it happens, with more common wildlife, so it's important for people to keep their distance."

Urban areas have raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer and sometimes coyotes. Maynard says it's a good idea to give all of them a wide berth. "They're not pets and while they're not vicious they will be scared of people. Any of the animals I've mentioned, all the way up to the size of a deer or a coyote, humans are really big."

Maynard says if an animal feels threatened and can't take flight, its only other option may be to fight.

Wild animals may not be pets but, they're not the enemies of humans either. "People shouldn't be scared of local wildlife. A lot of times people will freak out if they see a snake in their yard or see a deer or a coyote nearby."

He says recently the zoo got a call about a 7-foot long black rat snake in someone's kitchen. That species isn't venomous. Maynard says few snakes in the area are.

"People and wildlife have lived together for an awful long time and we still can."

The raccoon at the school was captured and euthanized. Samples were sent to Columbus for rabies testing. It bit an SPCA animal control officer, who has been treated and is doing fine.