She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

Maxine Baird has raised around 200 raccoons in her lifetime. As the founder of A New Hope, an animal sanctuary in Georgia, she believes all animals deserve a life free from cruelty and exploitation. When the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) called her about taking in a captive raccoon, it was business as usual. Of course, she would help, even after they warned her the raccoon was dangerously aggressive due to years of abuse.
In an interview with The Dodo, Baird explained it was only supposed to be a temporary placement. “We only have one raccoon enclosure [at A New Hope], which has another raccoon in it. But since she was described as so aggressive, I assumed that they probably wouldn’t get along, so we were just going to hold her for a couple of days.”
For legal reasons, DNR couldn’t tell her where they’d found the raccoon, but they mentioned the raccoon had been locked up in a suspended wire cage for most of her life. A raccoon can live up to twenty years in captivity, but in the wild, they typically have a life expectancy of only two to three years. The raccoon Baird was about to take in was already about four years old. She also also an albino with white fur and pink ears, and according to the DNR, the former owner may have wanted to use her for taxidermy.
She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

When a DNR officer brought the raccoon to A New Hope, her fur was matted and her skin was covered in sores. “She smelled horrific,” Baird said to The Dodo. “I mean, she smelled so bad. She was covered in feces, urine — so much to the point that she had urine burns all over her rear and stomach.”
Raccoons are known to be smart and fearless, but they also have highly sensitive paws because they rely on tactile stimulus to interact with the world around them. For a raccoon, touch may be even more important than sight or scent. So, when Baird saw the sores covering the raccoon’s paws, it was particularly troubling.
“The officer who delivered her said he doubted she’d ever had her feet on solid ground before,” Baird said to The Dodo. “This was especially sad because raccoons are sensitive in their hands — it’s one of their most dominant senses. Her sores must be pretty excruciating.”
Despite DNR’s earlier warning, Baird thought the raccoon seemed more scared than aggressive. She decided to trust her intuition and sat with the raccoon in the enclosure. To her surprise, they shared an immediate connection.
“I’d been going through some stuff in my personal life,” Baird said, “and I was kind of having a sad day, so I went out there, and I sat by her and she came right up to me. And it was interesting because she hadn’t come up to anyone yet, and she came up and sniffed me, and put her little hands in my hand.”
She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

When a vet recommended keeping the raccoon indoors until her sores healed, Baird didn’t hesitate. She named the raccoon Isis after a Egyptian goddess known for showing compassion toward all people, even those who betrayed her. It seemed to fit. “I just saw a complete 180-degree flip in her personality the minute she was exposed to some kindness,” Baird said. “All it took was a couple scratches on the head and she completely attached herself to me.”
She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

After a lifetime spent in confinement, Isis was starved for affection. She followed Baird from room to room, wanting to be carried and cuddled. But Isis also had to relearn how to be a raccoon again. The simplest act proved to be a challenge, but despite her clumsiness, Isis was eager to learn. She tried to climb everything in the house, and she discovered she liked digging through Baird’s pockets to look for keys. She even befriended another rescued raccoon living at the sanctuary.
Baird cautions that keeping a raccoon (or any wildlife, for that matter) as a pet is a bad idea. Raccoons, in particular, are destructive and aggressive. Many of the animals that end up at the sanctuary were mistreated then abandoned because people tried to keep them as pets.
Out of all the raccoons she has worked with in the past, Baird acknowledges that Isis is an anomaly.
“It’s pretty amazing to see her cuddling and giving kisses and being sweet, but that is not normal, not natural, and it’s really not that good,” Baird said. “If she hadn’t been in an abusive captive situation, then she’d be out in the wild, and that’s what we would really want for her – it’s just not going to be a possibility because of what she’s been through.”
Eventually, Isis will have to go live in an outdoor enclosure with other raccoons, but until then, to make up for all the abuse she’s had to endure, she gets all the cuddles she wants.
She rescued an abused albino raccoon from dire conditions. Now she can’t stop cuddling with her

A New Hope: Animal Sanctuary & Education Center is a non-profit animal sanctuary that offers a home for animals rescued from the exotic pet trade, non-releasable wildlife, and the victims of animal agriculture. Visit their website to learn how you can help care for Isis.
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