World

Flight Instructor Saves Raccoon Stranded Near Runway, Shares Snack With Him

A video of a small raccoon being rescued from a snowy runway at an airport in Canada has melted the internet’s heart.

Flight instructor Will Birchall noticed the freezing animal while inspecting the runway at Burlington Executive Airport in Ontario, Canada, after a snowstorm on March 4.

“We approached to see if we could scare him away a little but he was clearly really cold and didn’t want to budge,” Birchall told Newsweek. “He looked so cold.

“A few hours later, […] I noticed he was still there looking around.

“After some extremely slow and careful coaxing, we managed to carefully scoop him and the snow he was on, up with a shovel. He was a bit anxious at first but once we got moving with him, he was really chilled, didn’t try to get off, just sat there and went with it.”

Raccoon rescued in snow
The raccoon was carried to a patch of woodland at the edge of the airport and given a snack of granola bars.
u/oh_helloghost/Reddit

Birchall carried the raccoon to the nearest patch of woodland, which was about 800 yards away. “He was pretty heavy and I had to take a few breaks during the journey,” Birchall said. “The whole time, he just sat on the shovel and waited for me to get going again.”

Burlington Executive Airport is about 35 miles away from Toronto and is surrounded by woodland and fields. “It’s not uncommon for us to see all sorts of wildlife including raccoons, coyotes and rabbits,” Birchall said. “I’m guessing he got disoriented in the snowstorm and ended up out away from shelter in the middle of the airport.”

While raccoons spend most of winter hunkered down in their dens, they do not actually hibernate and have to come out occasionally to eat and drink. Sometimes, they will den up with other raccoons to keep warm, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Finding food is a lot harder in the winter, and, being scavengers, they often dive into dumpsters to get whatever remaining morsels they can find.

This particular raccoon, however, was treated to a more refined refreshment. “I know that feeding wild animals is considered a no-no, but the little guy seemed cold and exhausted,” Birchall said. “All we had available was a couple of granola bars […]—it’s a bit of a running joke within the aviation community that flight instructors survive on granola bars, so it seemed fitting that they might give this poor little guy a chance.”

After about 30 minutes, the raccoon made his way into the woods. But the story does not end there. “Later that night, around 10 p.m., another airport staff member came across him,” Birchall said. “He’d made his way into one of our hangars, so he was provided with another little snack and then sent on his merry way again.”

The airport staff have not seen him since.

Birchall shared the incident on Reddit in a post which has received over 4,600 upvotes and over 100 comments.

“This is delightful. Thank you, Canada,” said one user.

“Thank you for being so kind and helping this little guy out,” said another.