Raccoon Amazingly Survives Four-Week Transatlantic Voyage With No Food

Fall in love with Meeko, the Iowa raccoon that wound up in the United Kingdom.

(Photo: Thom Boyden / Getty Images)

Feb 9, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Environment and wildlife intern Adam Andrus has written for Mongabay.com and recently graduated from San Diego State.

Those beady eyes lurking beneath a furry black mask. Those creepy, dexterous hand-paws. The whole night-stalking, trash-rooting lifestyle. Let’s face it: Raccoons aren’t exactly the most endearing creatures.

But if there’s one raccoon sure to win over hearts, it’s Meeko, who survived a monthlong journey from the United States to South Wales living off only cardboard and condensation.

Named after the biscuit-snatching raccoon from the 1995 Disney film Pocahontas, Meeko began her 3,000-mile journey in Davenport, Iowa, where it’s believed she hopped into a container of machine parts just in time to be sent by rail to Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there, she was shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool, England. The container was then driven 300 miles south to Ebbw Vale, Wales, where, much to the disbelief of the factory workers, Meeko was discovered emaciated but alive.

“She was really thin when she arrived but is starting to put some weight on,” said Jan Garen, owner of the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary, where Meeko was relocated.

During winter months, raccoons spend most of their time sleeping in dens and living off abundant fat reserves stored from extensive fall foraging. But Meeko’s winter fat supply was depleted while in transit and she survived by eating cardboard and licking the condensation off the interior walls of the shipping crate.

“It’s obvious that she wasn’t a pet; she’s a wild animal, so she has to be handled very carefully,” said Garen. She and her husband are looking for donations to build a permanent home for Meeko at the sanctuary.

Meeko currently is the sanctuary’s only raccoon, but that’s about to change. Next week—just in time for Valentine’s Day—Meeko will be introduced to Cyril, a raccoon Garen rescued from an owner who rented him out to entertain children at birthday parties.

“He’s very friendly with humans, but we want to have him settled before we introduce them,” said Garen, who’s already planning the meal of their first date.

“They both like boiled eggs,” she said.

Eat your heart out, Meeko—after the trip of a lifetime, you deserve it.