Causes of zombification

‘Zombie’ raccoons terrorize town

By Chris Post

It sounds like the plot of a low-budget movie, but it is by all accounts true: more than a dozen cases of raccoons exhibiting “zombie-like behavior” have been reported in Youngstown, Ohio.

zombie raccoon

Photo of zombie raccoon by Robert Coggeshall.

Local television affiliate WKBN broke the story, reporting that over the last few weeks police have responded to about 14 calls of aggressive raccoons acting strangely. Eyewitness accounts describe the raccoons as walking unsteadily on their hind legs, showing their teeth and chasing people and pets.


One witness told WKBN that his attempts to frighten away one of the zombie raccoons were unsuccessful. Rather than run, the animal simply fell over comatose before rising again and exhibiting the same strange zombie-like behavior it had before.

Local wildlife officials contacted by the television station advised that the animals had been capture and euthanized. Tests showed the animals were not infected with the rabies virus and were most likely suffering from a different illness called distemper. The officials said the illness usually results in a substantial loss of local population, but would eventually run its course.


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