Watch: Rare sighting of raccoon in downtown Zurich

A recent video showing one of the North American natives in Zurich has highlighted the arrival of an invasive species in Switzerland's largest city.

Watch: Rare sighting of raccoon in downtown Zurich
A still from the video. Image: Michael Hill

The footage shows a raccoon passing in front of Zurich’s Restaurant Opera in the city’s Seefeld district before scuttling down a street to the surprise of onlookers.

“I was walking behind the opera house when I saw the animal waddle behind a chair,” Michael Hill, who took the video, told The Local.

“Within a second, I realised it was a raccoon and I took out my phone and started walking towards it and filming. Then it ran off,” said the 41-year-old who is now based in Zurich but has previously spent time in the US, where he saw the animals.

“It was totally taken aback. It was so weird. I didn't even know there were raccoons in Zurich, and I had to go online afterwards to check,” he said.

It was a rare sighting of the animal in the city of Zurich but such occurrences are becoming more frequent.

“We are getting more and more reports from hunters about raccoons in the forest or in populated areas and we have to assume there are more in the city too,” Jürg Zinggeler from the canton of Zurich’s hunting and fishing authorities told the Tages Anzeiger newspaper.

Zinggeler said that a hunter had killed a raccoon in the city a month before the recent sighting in Seefeld. He said this was the correct procedure as the mammals, which originate from Northern America, are classified as an invasive species in Switzerland

Raccoons first arrived in Switzerland in the 1960s after being released into the wild in Germany in 1934. The German population has grown to around one million animals, and the animals are present in many German cities.

They can cause plenty of damage to homes when they nest or live in roofs.

The orange dots represent pre-2000 raccoon sighting and the orange dots post-2000 sightings. Image: CSCF/Swisstopo

The population has not grown rapidly in Switzerland for reasons that are not clear. But Zinggeler says it could be because the animal’s population in Germany was allowed to grow too large before attempts were made to stop the spread.

The mammals are not dangerous to humans unless they feel threatened. They will then defend themselves,Lukas Handschin from Zurich city authorities told the 20 Minuten news site.

Read also: Brown bear strolls across Swiss ski slope


Lynx takes a rest on Norwegian family’s front drive

Usually a shy animal, a lynx offered an unusual sight at a family home in Trøndelag County when it strolled up the driveway and observed passing traffic.

Lynx takes a rest on Norwegian family’s front drive
A Eurasian lynx. Photo: lightpoet/Depositphotos

The rare wildlife sighting was originally reported by broadcaster NRK, which writes that 19-year-old Eirin Fjelle Tangvik managed to film the animal outside her home on Friday last week.

A medium-sized wild cat, the Eurasian lynx is the only wild cat native to Norway.

Although more common in far northern pine forest areas in Eurasia, smaller fragmented populations can be found in more southern regions, such as central county Trøndelag.

The nocturnal predator is rarely observed in the open, however.

“It was half past four in the afternoon and I was about to leave for work. Then I saw a large animal sitting at the bottom of our driveway. At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was and wondered whether it was a cat,” Tangvik said to NRK.

“It sat quietly watching the cars passing by. After a while it looked a bit frightened, and it started to walk up the road by our house. On the way into the garden it rubbed against a house corner, then it disappeared into the forest,” she continued.

The experience was more exciting than scary for the young observer, although she was concerned about the lynx attacking the family cat, according to NRK’s report.

Sightings of lynxes in residential areas are more common than many may think, wildlife researcher Jenny Mattisson of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research told NRK.

“Often, it can be a case of young animals who are on the move to find their own habitat. Their journeys can pass places like this,” Mattisson said.

READ ALSO: Norway lynx numbers 'lowest in twelve years'