February 15, 2022

Denver Zoo Welcomes Two Rescued Raccoons

Pecan and Cashew Will Soon Make Their Debut in Harmony Hill 

The idea of Harmony Hill is simple: how can we humans better co-exist with wildlife, whether we’re out in the wild, or in our own backyard? For the last three years, it’s been home to our grizzly bear Tundra, and now we’re welcoming two new resident raccoons. You read that right, Denver Zoo recently took in two rescued raccoons, Pecan and Cashew, who will soon reside in the east side of Harmony Hill. 

Going Nuts for Pecan and Cashew

Sisters Pecan and Cashew were rescued earlier this year by Sonflower Ranch and Rescue after a homeowner discovered a family of raccoons in their wall. Due to their leucism, a genetic abnormality that causes partial pigment loss, the two raccoons are unlikely to survive in the wild. The pair arrived in October and are at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital, where they’ll remain in quarantine until they are cleared to move to their new habitat. 

The Zoo’s animal care staff have already started working with the curious pair, who like to socialize with keepers, wade in the pool and nap together in their hammock. Pecan is outgoing and confident, and has darker fur than her sister. Cashew tends to be selective about the food she eats, and likes to see if her keepers have treats before looking for food around her habitat.  

Why Raccoons?

Among our Amur tigers and Sumatran orangutans, raccoons may seem like an odd addition to the Zoo, but Curator of Carnivores Rebecca McCloskey says these two furry friends perfectly represent Denver Zoo’s mission to inspire communities to save wildlife for future generations. 

“Harmony Hill is a place where we share the story about living with wildlife. Raccoons are an excellent example of a species we can teach our guests live alongside, so they were a natural fit for the space. Because of their light coloring, these two would not survive in the wild, so we’re giving them a safe place to call home,” said McCloskey, “And our visitors will learn a lot from these two, like how raccoons contribute to the ecosystem, and how we can live in harmony with wildlife.” 

Under Construction

Keepers are busy setting up the east side of Harmony Hill so that it’s suitable for our two new residents. The space, also known as the “backyard” side of Harmony Hill will be exclusive to the raccoons, while grizzly bear Tundra will have full use of the “National Park” side. Tundra, who recently started to den for the winter, will remain behind the scenes while crews make updates to the stream on her side of the habitat. We expect all projects to be done by early March, at which time the raccoons will be ready for their public debut. 

Want to see Pecan and Cashew before they move into Harmony Hill? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates on Pecan, Cashew, and our other 3,000 amazing animals. 

Denver Zoo is specially equipped to care for the 3,000 wild animals that call our zoo home. Please do not attempt to capture and home any of your wild neighbors. 


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