After Losing His Raccoon, Man Takes His Appeal To Governor

Mark "Coon Rippy" Brown, of Gallatin, Tenn., became an Internet sensation for posting videos online of himself bantering, dancing, even showering with his pet raccoons. He's now using his Internet fame to garner support, in an effort to get his pet raccoon Rebekah back from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which recently seized the critter. It is illegal in Tennessee to possess native animals captured in the wild.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From the raccoon family to a family raccoon. A Tennessee man known as Coon Rippy wants his pet raccoon back. Mark Brown has a following on his YouTube channel, which featured his friendship with a coon named Gunshow. This video of Brown dancing with Gunshow has been viewed more than a million times. Actually, Brown is doing most of the dancing in this video.

Well, after Gunshow passed away, Mark Brown adopted a baby raccoon he named Rebecca. And a few weeks ago, he posted a new video clip.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Coon.

MARK COON RIPPY BROWN: What?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Where are you?

BROWN: In the shower.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Where's Rebecca?

BROWN: She's in here with me.

SIEGEL: This time, Brown is seen in the shower, from chest up, and there on his shoulders is Rebecca. Well, now Rebecca has been taken away. Tennessee wildlife officials deny that the video is the reason. In any case, as Brown told us, he wants his raccoon back.

BROWN: Well, I was sitting in a local restaurant and they happened to pull up down there and they come over there and approached me to say we need to talk about Rebecca. I said, well, what do you need to talk about? They said, well, do you have a permit here? I said, well, no, I don't have a permit. They said, well, if you can produce documentation, that's fine. But if not, we're going to have to take her.

And of course, I surrendered her and I hadn't heard anything since.

SIEGEL: Mr. Brown, I want you to talk a little bit about your history with raccoons, not just Rebecca, but before that, the raccoon Gunshow. What is it about raccoons and, you know, why not a dog? Why not an animal that everyone could agree on here?

BROWN: Everybody has their own niche about something. You know, some people are good at accounting. Some people are good at farming. I just happen to be good at knowing raccoon behavior.

SIEGEL: Well, I gather that you have asked for a pardon and for a license to keep a raccoon at home. Is that fair?

BROWN: Yeah. I actually emailed the Honorable Governor Haslam. He's a great guy. I'm not taking nothing from him. But if he has the highest power in the state of Tennessee to free a murderer from prison, then he also possesses the same power to grant me a pardon and let me continue to raise Rebecca and keep her out of captivity and keep her from being hunted for her skin.

SIEGEL: Well, I want to read to you part of a statement from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, which says the whole point of the law against keeping raccoons or other animals as pets is to protect the public and to protect the animals. Wild animals kept in captivity are dangerous and present potential public health risks.

BROWN: Wild animals. But if all wild animals that fall into that category that you just read me, then I am no different than any biology class in high school that's got an aquarium with tadpoles in it. Where do we draw the line?

SIEGEL: Well, any word from the governor on your application for a pardon for Rebecca or for yourself?

BROWN: No, no. Like I said, he's a busy man, but I know he's getting flooded and I really do want to be a part of his campaign next time he runs.

(LAUGHTER)

SIEGEL: I see. You're willing to trade political favors for the freedom of Rebecca the raccoon.

BROWN: He's a great guy.

SIEGEL: Well, good luck in your campaign to get some forbearance here and thanks for talking with us.

BROWN: Okay. Like I said, keep up the fight.

SIEGEL: That's Mark Brown, also known as Coon Rippy. He is petitioning the government of Tennessee to get his raccoon, Rebecca, back at home.

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