A real cliff hanger

A real cliff hanger

And now from the good news department, comes the story of Alex,* the wonder raccoon (*not his official name, but
more on that in a sec.) Lest you were preoccupied with things like pre-evacuation on Tuesday, the Twitterverse in other, wetter parts of the country was captivated by a survival story of a different sort.

Seems at some time Tuesday morning, an errant urban raccoon embarked on a daunting mission up the side of the 23-story UBS Center in downtown St. Paul. (Thus the Alex reference, as in rockstar climber Honnold.) It’s hypothesized he – or she, as gender has not been determined – had been in search of a pigeon nest to raid atop the skyway when he lost his way. In what was obviously a slow news day in the capital city, Tim Nelson, a reporter across the way at Minnesota Public Radio, took an interest in the raccoon’s upward mobility. Nelson began posting updates under #mprraccoon. (AKA #mprracoon for the spelling-challenged.)

Well, apparently no one else had any pressing duties either, as the story exploded on social media. Crowds soon gathered outside the building to gawk and cheer on the hapless but loveable “trash panda” and “tree rat” (Twitter’s names, not ours. But we like them.) I-phone video recorded his every move, as pleas to save the #mprraccoon rang out.

“Please, God, Allah and Prince ... Let it survive. Peace and Purple Rain,” wrote one Twitterer.

Unfortunately, the windows in the UBS building, as in most skyscrapers, do not open. Firefighters, who were inevitably called to the scene, set live traps baited with cat food atop the building’s rooftop. But the critter had ideas of his own, and decided to stop for a late afternoon nap in one of the window wells around the 20th floor.

By now, local news stations had caught wind of the heroic free climb and arrived on the scene, with Nelson still keeping vigil across the street. But as night fell, the fate of Alex hung by a thread (and some really sharp claws).

Alas, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Sometime before midnight, Alex woke up, downclimbed to around the 18th floor and then made a herculean assault on the summit. As of 12:45 a.m. Wednesday central time, Nelson reported that Alex was happily devouring kitty food behind bars.

For his encore, Alex will be released into the wild somewhere in the Twin Cities exurbs, presumably far from and high rises and interstates.

As for his #15minutesoffame, Twitter was already calling for Alex to grace the cover of Time as “person of the year” and reporting that he had rejected an invitation to visit the White House.