Groundhog Takes Manhattan
The entertaining part of being a wildlife rehabilitator–aside from aside from all that helping animals whose lives have been thrown off course by humans–is the crazy phone calls. Right in Manhattan I’ve gotten calls about “a bird someone told me is an eagle,” a baby skunk, a few possums, a handful of raccoons and pretty much every baby bird one neighbor ever sees. Today I got call from the SoHo Grand–a hotel more known for celebrities than wildlife–about a groundhog they found out on West Broadway.
In what little experience I have, I have learned that New Yorkers do not know their animals. Every call I get for a baby squirrel, I fear I am going to pick up a rat. But, much to my amazement, tonight I have a Manhattan groundhog sitting in a dog crate in my living room, awaiting release.
The people at the SoHo Grand couldn’t have been nicer–to me or the marmot. They captured her (or him) off the street, despite the animal’s screaming, because they figured leaving her there would be cruel. (They used to call them whistle pigs.) They gave her a nice crate, water, carrots and apples. Their theory was that she climbed into somebody’s trunk, then unwittingly stowed away into Manhattan. There was some speculation that she had somehow escaped a Chinatown kitchen. Groundhogs can move faster than you think, but I doubt one could make its way into Manhattan like the coyote
I talked to Bobby Horvath, the kindest and most experienced wildlife rehabber in New York. He was surprised the groundhog let itself be caught. “Picture a squirrel, times 10,” he said, describing the difficulty of catching one without equipment. Bobby suggested I keep her till the rain stops in a day, just to be sure she’s okay, while he figures out a decent release site. Meanwhile, I put a plate of food in her cage. She sat on it. I looked at her near the bars. She lunged at me. I think she’ll be fine.
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