Workers at a cement plant in Arizona were unexpectedly delayed last week when they spotted a flash of fur sticking out of a slab of drying concrete.
An unfortunate animal had fallen into the gray slurry overnight, becoming trapped in the heavy mixture. Looking closer, the workers realized the animal was, in fact, an older raccoon.
And she was alive.
The workers lowered a long wooden plank into the cement and the raccoon grasped on. Clearly exhausted, the raccoon slowly began to hoist herself up the slippery plank. As she reached the lip of the vat, she attempted to walk along the edge, but slipped and fell back into the well of concrete.
Her fur was turning to stone, but she refused to give up.
Once again, she crawled up the board. When she finally made it to the top, she collapsed on the ground in a ball. She was weak and coated head to tail in concrete, so the workers called Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC).
When volunteers arrived to collect the raccoon, they couldn’t believe what the little animal had overcome. “The harder this poor raccoon struggled to free herself the further she sank,” SWCC wrote on Facebook. “Evening temps were cool that night, and as the cement began to set up, she was losing body heat. It’s a wonder she survived.”
Once the raccoon arrived at the wildlife center, her rescuers had to act fast.
“We were really in a quandary,” Linda Searles, director of SWCC, told The Dodo. “How do we get rock-hard concrete off a raccoon?”
“If you’ve ever had concrete on your hands, you know it can be really tough on your skin,” she added.
The rescuers sedated the raccoon and worked to get her temperature back to normal with warming blankets. However, a new problem arose when the heat from the blankets began drying the cement.
“Out came the electric razors and two people began to shave her,” SWCC wrote on Facebook. “With a mixture of wet and dry cement, the blades dulled quickly and needed to be changed again and again. More than an hour later, with no blades to spare, the cement was gone, along with the hair it was stuck to. What was left was a hairless, dusty, white raccoon.”
After a soak in vinegar-infused water followed by a soothing oatmeal bath, the raccoon’s skin returned to a healthy pinkish hue and the concrete dust was gone.
Nearly a week later, the raccoon is doing great considering what she’s been through.
“She’s doing well health-wise. She really loves her diet. She’s getting lots of really great food — fruits, vegetables and mealworms — all different types of stuff that she really likes,” Searles said. “For now, she’s just resting and recovering from her ordeal. It must have been terrifying to be in a vat of liquid concrete all night.”
“She’s an older raccoon and has lost quite a few of her teeth,” Searles said. “After she puts some weight on and grows her hair back, the doctor will reevaluate her and decide if she’s a candidate for release.”
For now, the raccoon is enjoying her well-deserved break and is so grateful to her rescuers who found her in the nick of time.