Beware dog owners: “Zombie Raccoons” with distemper found at park in Louisiana


NEW ORLEANS, La. (WGNO) — Next time you take your dog for a walk in New Orleans City Park, make sure to beware of raccoons that some are calling, “zombie raccoons.”

Michael Sloan walks his dogs in City Park everyday, but now he’s a little more careful because he’s seen several of the sick raccoons that some have been calling “zombie raccoons.”

“The first time I saw them, I thought they were poisoned but it seems like they were sick. They’ve got hunched backs and they are not moving quickly or they are not moving at all. Sometimes they are curled up and it looks like they are sleeping,” Sloan said.

Those sick raccoons have canine distemper, which they contract in the wild.

“They become lethargic. They are not manic. They often have seizures and runny noses. They are so disoriented. Normally raccoons are nocturnal animals, but these ones you will see in the daytime,” Rob DeViney, Chief Operating Officer for New Orleans City Park said.

DeViney said people are safe from the diseased raccoons, and so are their dogs as long as the dogs have been vaccinated.

“The danger to your animal is if your dog drinks out of a puddle that an infected raccoon has had contact with or dogs can get it from raccoon feces,” DeViney said.

City Park contacted Wildlife & Fisheries to help eliminate the diseased raccoons.

“We have to trap them and safely euthanize them,” DeViney said.

City Park is taking a proactive approach to solving the problem by placing signs around the park telling folks to contact them if they see the sick animals.

And for dog owners like Michael, staying far away from the raccoons is best.

“As soon as we see them, we go the other way. We want to just keep the dogs safe and keep them happy,” he said.

If you see these raccoons, you are asked to give the time when you saw the raccoon and the exact location of where you saw the animal. Please e-mail with the information.

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