By Jody Callahan
File this under “things you don’t see in Memphis every day.”
Just before 9 p.m. Tuesday night, police received a call about a loose animal at 31 S. McLean, an area between Madison and Union not far from Huey’s. The cops surely expected to find a dog, maybe a cat or perhaps even a bird.
Instead, they saw something weird. Neighbors thought a monkey had escaped from the zoo. Police spotted the critter and thought it was a funny looking raccoon. One officer tried to snag the animal, but wound up with bites and scratches instead, and was soon joined by a second officer. The pair finally corralled the creature and got him into the back of a squad car. They drove to the Memphis Zoo, thinking it must have a home there. A security guard checked with Matt Thompson, the zoo’s director of animal programs, and was told it didn’t belong in one of their habitats.
At that point, police drove the critter to Memphis Animal Services, where it remained Wednesday afternoon.
So, what was it? The curious officers looked online and determined it to be a “coatimundi,” also called a Brazilian aardvark. They are native to South America, but are sometimes kept as exotic pets in the United States, according to Thompson.
“They’re very closely related to a raccoon. They are fairly common in the exotic animal pet trade. We get calls about them, every now and then,” said Thompson, adding that the state of Tennessee does not require owners of such animals to have a license.
Thompson wasn’t surprised that the animal was found running loose, since — like a typical raccoon — they’re often troublemakers. More....