Minnesota raccoon's daring skyscraper scramble transfixes internet

A raccoon is pictured scaling the side of a high-rise building - with splayed armsImage copyright
Evan Frost/ MPR News

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The animal has been scaling the UBS building since Tuesday as crowds watch on

A daredevil raccoon in St Paul, Minnesota, has had the internet on tenterhooks after scaling 23 floors of a building for nearly a day.

The critter, dubbed #MPRraccoon after the radio station opposite the high-rise, is trending worldwide on Twitter.

Crowds have been gathered at the building since he went viral, and local media are streaming his perilous climb.

Local fire officials and animal services attempted to lure the animal to safety all day.

Evan Frost, a photojournalist with Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), was still at the scene at about 02:00 (06:00 BST) local time on Wednesday morning.

At that time the animal had not moved for several hours, but reports on social media suggest the raccoon successfully ascended to the building’s roof just before 03:00am (07:00 BST).

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Tim Nelson/ MPR News

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Watchers were concerned for the animal’s welfare, and feared he needed food and water

“One of my colleagues spotted the raccoon on kind of ground floor sitting on a ledge on Monday – it looked like a brown lump, almost like a cat sitting there,” he told the BBC.

“We went out there at about 8:30 on Tuesday morning and saw it was a raccoon.

“Two workers in the building got out a couple of long planks – sort of making a kind of ladder for it.”

But that initial rescue failed – and ended up scaring the animal upwards.

It spent much of Tuesday going up and down the building’s floors.

“It kept going up incrementally – it would go up four or five floors then would sit on the windowsill and then we’d wait a few hours,” Mr Frost said.

Raccoons are common in the US, but are usually found in alleys or riffling through rubbish bins – leading to the common animal nickname “trash panda”.

Mr Frost and his colleague Tim Nelson have been overwhelmed by the reaction to their posts about the raccoon’s ascent.

“I think it just seems like something a lot of different people can get behind. Everyone wants to see this creature get to safety somehow. It’s a very perilous situation,” he told the BBC.

“It’s kind of absurd that I took a couple of pictures of an animal that people usually hate and think is disgusting, and all of a sudden it has thousands of retweets and likes.”

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Evan Frost/ MPR News

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Crowds gathered throughout Tuesday day and overnight at the scene

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Tony Nelson/MPR News

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One woman, called Maria Lucia, brought binoculars, and said she was worried about the animal

The photojournalist laughed when asked if he had managed to get any work done away from raccoon-watch.

“It just took over our days after it took off on social media,” he said.

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Tony Nelson/ MPR News

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Local fire officials tried to coax the animal to safety after saying it was too dangerous to attempt a rescue

James Gunn, who directed Hollywood film Guardians of the Galaxy, which featured a hero raccoon, offered to donate $1,000 (£750) to charity in the name of anyone who saved it.

A Twitter account in the animal’s name already has over 2,000 followers – and users online have made fan-art and even toys of the animal.

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