Was Raccoon missing from Yunnan Wild Animal Park enclosure abducted?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 6:23pm

A raccoon has been reported missing from a zoo in China’s southwestern Yunnan province just five days after it opened the country’s first raccoon park to the public.

The missing raccoon, nicknamed “Dian Dian”, or “dots” in English, was chubby and usually friendly to humans, Yunnan Wild Animal Park told the China News Service. A zoo keeper discovered Dian Dian was missing on Saturday morning when he made a routine head count of the 48 raccoons in the zoo’s new raccoon park.

The raccoon park, which opened on September 16, allows visitors to interact directly with the cute animals.

The zoo’s executive manager Li Youlong ordered over 20 members of staff to search for Dian Dian in the zoo without success.

“There is little possibility that Dian Dian has escaped from the zoo,” Li told the news agency, as no damage to fences or holes in the ground were found.

The zoo is considering the possibility that Dian Dian has been abducted by a visitor. According to records, 8,000 people visited the zoo on Friday, the day before the animal went missing. Hundreds of visitors had brought bags big enough to contain a raccoon, it said.

The zoo had reported the matter to the police, the agency said.

Although raccoons sometimes are friendly with humans, they are not allowed to be kept as pets as they are a protected species in China, the report cited the zoo manager Li as saying.

Raising wild animals such as raccoons without proper training could result in their deaths, which was a criminal act, he added.