A rare baby white raccoon was found by a cleanup volunteer in Lake Merritt this month, and naturally, the critter was found inside a trash receptacle.
A volunteer group called the Trash Falcons makes it a weekly project to clean up trash around Lake Merritt every Sunday morning. And they’ve found some unusual items before. But on one recent Sunday, one of the Trash Falcons found himself a trash panda (a.k.a., a raccoon) and a rare and unusual one at that. NBC Bay Area reports that volunteer Dana Berry found a rare form of white raccoon at Lake Merritt, and he got pictures and video of the little character who was digging through a cardboard trash bin.
Oakland man discovers rare white raccoon in trash bin https://t.co/uKLlgFBh8E— ChicMik (@ChyMik) October 17, 2023
"I looked down and there's a furry little guy looking up at me with these big eyes and big teeth," Berry told NBC Bay Area. "At first, I thought it was an opossum. I kind of looked at it and then thought, 'OK, let's bring it over to a safe area.'"
SFGate has video of the encounter, where the raccoon was found in the trash box. Berry positioned the box on its side so the little raccoon could run away, and it scurried up a tree.
That outlet also explains that a white racoon is actually a raccoon born with a condition called leucism, which is similar to albinism. According to the National Park Service, leucism is “the partial loss of all types of pigmentation,” which “causes white coloration, white patches, spots, or splotches on the skin or fur.”
It’s not the first time a white raccoon has been seen around Lake Merritt. One was spotted in 2018 and posted to Reddit at the time, and litter of baby white raccoons was seen there in 2021. This raccoon may be one of the three baby white raccoons at Lake Merritt that an Oaklandside reader spotted last month, and got video of those raccoons with their mother, whose fur was normally colored.
Image: trashfalcons via Instagram