Park Inn, Berlin has a Random Raccoon Guest
AP For North Americans, having a raccoon in your garage is hardly a big deal. In Germany, however -- where the animals are something of a rarity -- the same can't be said.
For the past few weeks, a raccoon has been causing a stir in Germany's capital Berlin after making its home in the garage of one of the city's landmark hotels, the 39-story Park Inn. The furry creature has been spotted scurrying around the hotel's garage and scavenging for food in the trash cans of a near-by Burger King fast food restaurant. Hotel staff have christened the little guest Alex, after the nickname for Alexanderplatz, the square where the hotel is located.
Over the last few weeks, the little animal has become a minor celebrity after Berlin's media got wind of the raccoon's unusual choice of home. The city's newspapers have been reporting about the latest sightings of Alex and the hotel's failed attempt to find it a new home.
Although welcoming their unusual guest, the hotel's management seems ambivalent about having a raccoon living in its garage. When the news first broke, the hotel's general manager Thomas Hattenberger told reporters they were proud the animal had chosen their hotel as its new home. However, at the same time he announced they were looking for a new home -- one more suitable for a raccoon -- for Alex. The hotel even offered to sponsor the animal, if a zoo or a private individual could be found to take Alex in.
But, after seeking the help of wildlife experts at Berlin's Senate Department for Urban Development, the hotel's management discovered it might not be allowed to evict Alex. According to German hunting law, a wild animal cannot be removed from private property -- even from one's own -- unless it presents a danger.
But the raccoon has not yet caused any trouble. "At the moment we are just waiting to see what will happen," hotel spokeswoman Catherina Cora told SPIEGEL ONLINE Monday. "The raccoon is not a danger to anyone and so far it has created no harm." She added that the hotel's only concern was that, because the animal was quite unusual, it might frighten a driver and cause an accident.
For those of you that know Racoons, they're not native to Germany. They were bought here as a part of fur farming and many of them escaped at the end of WW2. Much like any animal, when given the right environment (plenty of water, food, and shelter - such as is the case here) along with no natural preditors except the red fox, they can thrive. Locally, this little guy has become something of a tourist attraction, with people hoping to catch site of him at dusk.