Students watched, transfixed, as the daring climber made his way up the treacherous vines, clinging desperately to the gravelly side of the academic building, tiny fists clenched in determination. Who was this rogue adventurer, so bravely risking life and limb? Where did he come from, and why was this his chosen task? So many questions remain unanswered, for the furry raccoon, alas, did not communicate well with his human counterparts.
On Friday, April 18, many witnessed the drastic wall-scaling efforts of a mysterious raccoon affectionately nicknamed “Li’l Jimmy,” who brazenly clung to vines attached to Morey Hall as students, faculty and administrators remained puzzled over what to do.
Small crowds first spotted him around 8 a.m. and immediately gathered to speculate on the strange sighting. Several students called campus services and alerted its forces to the impending wildlife crisis, as Security officers draped caution tape around the immediate vicinity in case Li’l Jimmy lost his tight grasp.
Animal control services were eventually called to the scene but quickly determined that efforts to force him off the property would likely prove more dangerous than beneficial, as he showed no signs that he was rabid. Authorities determined that he was likely stuck there due to fear of humans and that he would likely climb down himself at nightfall.
In the meantime, others rallied in support of the night creature, as a fledgling Facebook group dubbed “Rochester RaccoonWatch!” reached an impressive membership of over 100. Students logged on to document their Jimmy sightings, as the apparently travel-friendly little creature was spotted perusing Goergen Athletic Center, Lovejoy Hall and as far away as McLean Street.
The group’s creator, sophomore Jeremy Ferris, states that he and his fellow administrators opened a window intended for the climber’s relief, but the steadfast raccoon refused to let go of his safety vines. They also hosted night vigil activities in hopes to assuage the little one’s fears.
“When the night rolled around, my friends and I went over to Morey, held up lighters, played him music, gave him random words of encouragement and told passerbys of his plight,” he said.
Luckily, Li’l Jimmy eventually did make it to a nearby window ledge and napped there until nightfall, as he was visible around 1 and 2 a.m. to passing Student Aides.
Many who expressed support identified with the struggling creature.
“I wouldn’t say I literally empathize with him – I’ve never personally been stuck on the side of a building – but in terms of being fed up with society enough to run up a wall, I guess I could empathize with that,” co-administrator of the Facebook group and freshman Jon Starr expressed.
Several students attempted to gain entrance to the Morey room closest to Jimmy that night thinking that, once given privacy, he might enter and be relieved from his plight. Some eagerly attempted to pick the locks of the closed door; however, their efforts proved fruitless.
Shortly thereafter, in the murky cover of the night, Jimmy made his final descent down the vines that had sustained him for so long and returned exhausted to a presumably bewildered family.
In actuality, raccoons frequently climb vines, trees, downspouts and trellises in more urban areas to access building spaces in which they raise their young, so the resourceful raccoon was likely searching for a new home. While he apparently did not find new living arrangements, he did, however, find a welcoming family in the UR student population, who hope to see his furry little face sometime soon.
“Maybe he’ll come back next year, make a celebrity appearance,” Starr mused.