'I miss him:' Rambo's former caregiver heartbroken over raccoon's relocation
Despite earlier indications to the contrary, it now appears Rambo the raccoon will not be returning home to East Uniacke, N.S.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources has relocated Rambo to its wildlife park in Shubenacadie, with possible plans to eventually release him into the wild.
The family who raised Rambo says they are heartbroken over the news.
“I miss him,” says Rambo’s former caregiver, Billy Holman. “I want him home. I want him home, of course.”
Starving and alone when they got him, Rambo quickly became a member of the family.
The raccoon grew up, got comfortable, and often seemed more at ease with people than with his own kind.
The family reluctantly surrendered him to Hope for Wildlife back in February after a visit from DNR officers.
They had hoped to get him back, but that now seems unlikely.
In a statement, the department is defending its decision to relocate Rambo to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park.
“It is against the Wildlife Act to keep wild animals in captivity, except by qualified people approved by DNR. Feeding or otherwise keeping these animals can impair their survival instincts, and poses risks to well-intentioned people: wildlife do not make good pets," said DNR spokesperson Bruce Nunn. "With this in mind, this animal has been taken to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park where it will be monitored and cared for by park staff in a way that maximizes the raccoon’s odds of a successful re-introduction to the wild. It is eating a diverse and healthy natural diet and showing wild behaviours, which is promising.”
DNR says Rambo is being monitored by park staff, eating a natural diet, and showing signs of wild behavior.
Still, this wasn’t the first choice for the animal expert who assessed him for about six weeks.
“It’s never easy to come up with a proper answer to these questions” says Hope Swinimer.
Swinimer had recommended a soft release for Rambo back on the property where he was raised.
In all her years of working with animals, it was the first time the department had ever asked for her opinion on what to do with one.
“They do agree with the soft release part,” she says. “So we’ll kind of see where it goes from there.”
“DNR is really hurting a lot of people’s feelings,” adds Holman. “I mean, even today, coming here, what did I see on the road? A dead raccoon.”
The family has considered legal action, but concedes that would be an uphill battle.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” says Holman, “because you’re fighting against the Nova Scotia government, right?”
In the meantime, Holman says he's trying to stay focused on his work, even if his heart is somewhere else.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.