Alissa Gonyea, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher, planned to have a lesiurely summer that included travel and camping adventures with her son and nephew.
Instead, she is caring for four baby raccoons.
"If you would have told me two weeks ago Iâ€™d be doing this, I wouldnâ€™t have believed you," says Gonyea.
A few months ago, a Madison-based friend of Gonyea's posted on her Facebook page thatÂ Wisconsin WildCareÂ was looking for people to foster litters (sometimes called "kits") of raccoons.
Gonyea, who lives in Riverwest, responded that she was interested, but did not hear anything back until last Sunday when a group representative informed her there was a litter waiting for her.
So Gonyea picked up the critters and named them Eeenie, Meeney, Miney and Moe. (Miney and Meenie are girls; Eenie and Moe are boys.)
Through the organization, Gonyea is licensed to house the raccoons who were vaccinated for rabies.
After their mother died of an unknown cause, the baby raccoons were too young to feed themselves and quickly became malnourished. Once rescued, they've been primarily bottle fed with raccoon formula.
Yes. Raccoon formula.
Gonyea purchased it from a man in Illinois who specializes in concocting formula for myriad creatures from shrews toÂ humpback whales. She paid $83 for approximately a two-week supply and had the formula overnighted to her Riverwest home. The raccoons eat four times a day.
Because she exclusively breastfed her son, Gonyea had never made a formula bottle before.Â
"It was all new to me," she says.
Every day, the raccoons spend time outdoors in Gonyeaâ€™s enclosed backyard. They enjoy climbing the tree and "bathing" in a dishpan filled with water.
Gonyea will keep the raccoons until they are 10 pounds â€“ they are currently two pounds â€“ which experts estimate will be mid-September or so.Â
Once the creatures are old and strong enough, Gonyea plans to "soft release" them on a friendâ€™s land in Wisconsin Dells. A soft release means they will live in nature but also have access to a cage and food.
Currently, the raccoons have an indoor metal cage, but they will soon move to a larger, outdoor enclosure.Â
Raccoons are nocturnal, but so far they have not been disruptive during human sleeping hours. They do, however, emit a hitch-pitched teetering noise that sounds like a nervous chortle and some scientists believe raccoons have a vocabulary with 50 or more different vocalizations.Â
Native to North America, raccoons are the largest of the procyonid family, which also includes coatis, olingos, ringtails, cacomistles and kinkajous.
Arguably, the raccoons' most interesting features are their mask-like black eye markings and their creepily dexterous hands that feature five digits.Â They are also believed to be intelligent. But Gonyea, her nephew and her son most appreciate that the raccoons are affectionate, cuddly and non-aggressive.Â
"Especially Meenie," she says, nuzzling her tiny, fuzzy face.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published Jan. 25, 2015
Whether your kid is more bouncy or more craft-oriented, there's a Brew City birthday party that can accommodate his / her wishes - and hopefully your budget.
Published Jan. 25, 2015
OnMilwaukee.com recently stopped in at Fink's for a brandy old fashioned and to talk with bartender Mario Lanza about music, travel, dogs and neck tattoos.
Published Jan. 24, 2015
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission named Kimberly Blaeser as the new Wisconsin poet laureate for 2015-16. Recently, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with Blaeser and chatted with her about her writing, her family life, how being Native American influences her work, her favorite writers, the power of a good nap and what exactly the poet laureate does.
Published Jan. 23, 2015
Buddha Lounge, 1504 E. North Ave., opened on Monday and OnMilwaukee.com stopped by to sample the sushi and drink an Asian beer or two.
Published Jan. 21, 2015
Pride has always been a residual effect of riding, building or promoting Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and once again, the H-D pride is reinforced through the Harley-Davidson Museum's latest exhibit called "(P)ART: Photographs Revealing the Art of Mechanical Form." This new exhibit opened last week and runs through Sunday, May 17.
Published Jan. 18, 2015
Angela Damiani is the president of Newaukee, an organization once known as a young professionals group that rebranded itself in 2014 as a "social architecture firm." OnMilwaukee.com recently chatted with Damiani about her role in the organization, her vision for the future and got a peak at her life beyond Newaukee which recently included a wedding.
Published Jan. 17, 2015
Earlier this month, Steph Davies announced that her art and gift consignment shop, Waxwing, would close at the end of February. Well, plans have changed and The Waxwing will remain open through January 2016.
Published Jan. 17, 2015
Rockerbox moved to Road America in Elkhart Lake after being in Riverwest for a decade. So now get ready for the first Brewtown Rumble. The street festival will feature bikes, music, food, drinks, a swap meet, custom bike contest, vending, a pin-up girl contest and more. It take place on Sunday, May 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Best Place.
Published Jan. 16, 2015
Earlier this week, the Estabrook Beer Garden was vandalized. Although insurance will cover the cost of repair, a $1,000 reward is being offered to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest of the people responsible for the vandalism.
Published Jan. 15, 2015
Brian "Blaze" Blazel moved to Milwaukee from Eau Claire to study mechanical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, but enthusiastically changed directions when he was offered a job as a brewer at Milwaukee Brewing Co. Last summer, Central Standard Craft Distillery - a micro still and tasting room in Walker's Point - rented space in Milwaukee Brewing Co.'s building and hired Blazel as a distiller.