And welcoming travellers to Toronto.
Everyone’s introduction to Toronto should be a raccoon. Forget the CN Tower. Never mind Union Station. None of them, I submit, are as emblematic of the city as the raccoon.
On one of my first nights in the city, I left my trash outside—soon enough, my doorstep was overrun with half a dozen hungry raccoons. Another time, one popped out of a garbage bin. While I was once terrified of them, I grew to tolerate, and then appreciate, my raccoon sightings. If I think about it hard enough, I can conclude that my feeling of being at home in Toronto tracks very closely with my comfort with raccoons.
It’s fitting, then, that one of the city’s many furry bandits made an appearance to greet people at the Pearson International Airport baggage claim. The raccoon, peering down from an (appropriately Torontonian) missing ceiling panel, was caught on camera and posted on Twitter by Cameron Graham:
At Toronto Pearson Airport, we spotted this little fellow checking to see who had come off the flight from Edmonton. pic.twitter.com/m2nSdrxwXt
— Cameron Graham (@camerongraham) May 6, 2017
The raccoon has even started its own Twitter account:
I wasn't hiding. I was waiting for my bag! https://t.co/ttfjnYGLE9
— Pearson Raccoon (@yyzraccoon) May 6, 2017
As Emma McIntosh notes in the Star, behind all the fun and games might be a sick animal: 2016 saw a sharp increase in raccoon distemper, a viral infection that causes raccoons to appear tired and unafraid of human interaction. (It’s generally best, if you see a raccoon behaving un-raccoon-like, to call Toronto Wildlife Services.)
Nevertheless, the raccoon sighting made for some laughs on Twitter:
"Welcome to #Toronto. May I eat your garbage?"
New tourism campaign has raccoons greeting visitors at Pearson Airport. https://t.co/KnDWGJaxfJ
— Mackay Taggart (@mackaytaggart) May 6, 2017
— Ian MacIntyre (@MrIanMacIntyre) May 6, 2017
CEILING RACCOON SEES WHAT YOU DID https://t.co/R78KCMXnmv
— girlyratfish (@girlyratfish) May 6, 2017
— Anne Marie Aikins (@femwriter) May 7, 2017
There’s something that is quintessentially Toronto about this furry Pearson greeter. On one hand, the experience of a raccoon popping up in a place where one would not traditionally expect a raccoon to be is something that anybody coming to Toronto should get familiar with. On another, the appearance of wildlife where you don’t expect it is, in a city with an underappreciated system of valleys and trails and (little-known fact) more beach waterfront by kilometre than the notably coastal Vancouver, a fitting procyonine metaphor for Toronto (and all cities, really); the life of the city living in the spaces inside and around its built structure.
At the time of writing, the raccoon had yet to be caught, and continues to roam the inner structures of Pearson’s Terminal 3.