We’ve been getting multiple reports of raccoons in and around the playgrounds in Central Park, with some of the raccoons hopping up on tables and snacking on food. Clearly, no one wants to let their kids run around when aggressive raccoons are in the area — and when it’s not entirely clear that Central Park’s rabid raccoon problem from 2010 has been completely eradicated.
City records indicate that no rabid raccoons have been found in Manhattan since December 2011 when one was found in Central Park around 100th Street. But it’s also not clear that the city is checking the animals regularly — the parks department never got back to us for this article.
We heard this from one parent:
“I am sure you have either seen or heard that there are raccoons that have been in the playground at 96th St. and CPW in daylight (the Rudin playground.) My nanny relayed an incident yesterday where there was a pizza party in the park and a raccoon was up on the picnic table with the food. The raccoons seem to be getting more and more brazen. I have previously called 311 and registered a complaint that was dismissed because raccoons are indigineous to the park. “
Another parent also posted about raccoons at the same playground on a local parents’ message board.
“At the Rudin playground earlier this week, we saw a baby raccoon climbing on the tables and pawing through childrens’ food. I called 911 to report the incident, and was told it had already been called in; 45 minutes later no one had arrived to address the raccoon. My concern was that since this was afternoon, in broad daylight, the nocturnal animal may have been rabid.
Yesterday, my sitter and daughter saw a raccoon in the garbage at the entry to the playground, and we saw it there again today. It is impossible to enter or exit the playground without getting within 2 feet of the animal.
Alarming is the number of adults who allow their children to get far too close to the raccoon — one girl reached out to pet it. Sure, it’s cute and novel, but it’s a wild animal who may bite.”
Raccoons have also been seen at Adventure Playground around 67th Street just off of Central Park West (like in the photo above). Parents said that parks employees are aware of the raccoons and even sometimes come by to try to teach kids not to feed or touch them.
Gale Brewer’s office has been contacted about the raccoon issue and is sending letters to the parks and health department.
Photo by Laura Matthei.