Tennessee resident Mark “Coonrippy” Brown became a viral hit when the Internet discovered a 2012 YouTube video of the overalls-wearing man with a Santa-like white beard dancing to Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” with a raccoon named Gunshow.
When the animal passed away in January, Brown, a former animal control officer, got a new raccoon named Rebekah. But because it is illegal for state residents to keep wild animals as pets, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency seized the animal from Brown’s home in Gallatin two weeks ago and took it to a rehabilitation center called Walden’s Puddle, where it will be reacquainted with other raccoons before being re-released into the wild, ABC News reports.
As part of his effort to get the animal back, Brown has posted a personal appeal to state authorities on YouTube, where you’ll also find footage of him lovingly bottle-feeding the raccoon in a bucket and taking a shower with the wild animal. The YouTube sensation told ABC News that the raccoon, which would sleep in his bed at night, will be worse off on her own: “If she’s released into the wild, all hunters of legal hunting age can train their coon dogs to kill her or trap her for her fur. That’s not what I want.”
Brown’s managed to drum up plenty of support for his cause among fans online. Petitions on Change.org and care2petitionsite have racked up more than 1,000 signatures respectively. The Facebook page of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has been inundated with messages from fans as far away as New York City and California. As one Louisiana Facebook user wrote: ”How is a being kept in a tiny cage and hauled around to schools as an educational piece, or thrown in the wild to be hit by a car or killed by hunters a better fate for this baby raccoon than a home with 13 acres of land and a loving family? Give Rebekah Back!”