Mark 'Coonrippy' Brown, YouTube Sensation, Devastated After Pet Raccoon Rebekah Seized
Should he get his racoon back? In general, should people be allowed to make traditionally "wild" animals into pets?Mark "Coonrippy" Brown rocketed to Internet stardom after videos of him and his pet raccoon Gunshow dancing to Aretha Franklin went viral on YouTube. Today, however, Brown is fighting to regain custody of his second raccoon pet, Rebekah, who was taken from him by state wildlife officials two week ago.
Brown, a native of Gallatin, Tenn., said he originally adopted Rebekah after she was accused of eating a local school's chickens, according to News Channel 5. After Gunshow died earlier this year, Rebekah starred in her own series of YouTube videos, where she can be seen hanging out -- and even showering -- with Brown.
The pair's unlikely friendship came to an abrupt halt, however, after officials from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency showed up to confiscate Rebekah in late July, according to local ABC affiliate WATE.
The self-described "hillbilly," who said he is in talks about a reality TV show, claims he was targeted by the TWRA because of his YouTube fame.
"Now that I have become a big fish, they've come after me to take Rebekah away from me," Brown said, according to WATE.
However, TWRA officials counter that they only moved to seize the pet after a neighbor complained, ABC News reports. A TRWA representative told the outlet that Brown refused to cooperate with officials and that Rebekah had been removed to animal sanctuary Walden's Puddle so she can eventually be reintegrated into her natural habitat.
Rebekah "deserves to live" in the wild, Bettina Bowers Schwan, the animal care director at Walden's Puddle, told ABC in an email. "It is one thing to 'love' these animals, but you must also respect them and their true natures."
TWRA spokesman Don King told The Tennessean that wild animals, including raccoons, simply aren't suitable as pets and can be very unpredictable.
?It?s pretty black and white the way the law reads," King said.
Undeterred by his odds, Brown has launched a campaign to get Rebekah back, posting videos to YouTube and mustering Facebook supporters to lobby Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on his behalf. Indeed, Haslam's official Facebook page has since been deluged by "Free Rebekah" supporters calling on the state to give the raccoon back.
"Please use common sense and realize that this animal is no longer able to be rehabilitated for the wild,"
Francesca Serritella wrote. "It is domesticated. And as such, it should be adopted by a responsible home. Luckily you have one available. Please return the raccoon Rebekah to Mark Brown and his family. It's truly what's best for the animal at no harm to people or the community. Thanks."
Another supporter, Kathy Devine Baran, sympathetically noted that, "For every rule or law there is an exception. The gentleman with the raccoon has shown love and compassion for an innocent creature."
There are also several petitions, including one on Change.org that has more than 1,800 signatures.
Brown said he is trying to stay optimistic.
"I think we can get Rebekah back. I should not be condemned, I should be commended," he told ABC News. "I've done no wrong."
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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What was the actual complaint by the neighbor? I would like to know. If the law says you can't own raccoons and that he was doing something illegal well then i could see why he may not get her back and don't necessarily see anything wrong with that.
But honestly i don't really care if he has the thing and wouldn't care if he got it back either.
I don't know about this whole "It deserves to be in the wild!" thing. Raccoons are so friggin adaptable. I'm no scientist but i don't think they give a flying crap about where they live. And i mean if someone took a small rodent and decided to keep it as a pet, no one would say very much. This isn't like taking a lion off the Serengeti and trying to get it to live in a barn in oklahoma.
I do agree that they can be unpredictable....and that person who wrote in saying its 'domesticated' is being ridiculous. That is not a domestic animal. But i mean if the thing goes bat**** crazy on him one day....i don't know, i guess that was his choice and i don't care if he takes that risk. I suppose it could be a hazard to people he has over to his house though.
I don't know..I suppose the truly right thing to do would be to return it to its 'natural habitat' (whatever that is for a raccoon, they can live practically anywhere!) but part of me is like...'eh, give him back the stupid raccoon, who cares'
But like i said, i'd like to know what the complaint was.
Cecilia Marie 1/10/10
Photo By Anne Schmidt Photography
Ya not that big a deal to me either. It's not like a tiger or something that if it escaped might kill someone. Or a Chimp that could tear someone's face off. And they aren't endangered or anything. My brother kept a raccoon once for awhile as a pet. Not that many people would want one anyway because they are messy and smelly. If it's not hurting anyone else I don't think they should take it away.
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I'm in the "I really don't care" camp but I do see how allowing this man to have his raccoon back sets a poor precedent for others who might see his YouTube video & think, "Hey, I get me a raccoon pet, too!" Wild animals *should* be left living in the wild. However, I doubt that this raccoon after so long being fed & bathed & all that is going to be very happy back in the wild and it's probably going to start bugging someone else & get itself shot. So why not let him have it, make him get a proper permit & have it spayed & keep it up to date with rabies shots & all that, it stays safe & healthy & out of anyone else's garbage can.
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I do some work with our local raptor center. and it's really bad for people to try and bond with them, because they live 40 or 50 years and once they've imprinted on people it's not cool to send them back to the wild. But at the shelter, it means 40 or 50 years of raw meat and caretakers or death.
I don't know about raccoons much, but it seems best to follow a program and ideal of stewardship.