By Torey Van Oot
NEW YORK CITY — A walk through Central Park at twilight turned into a "bummer night with nature" for one social media-savvy Brooklyn musician Tuesday night, when she said she was attacked by what she called "two potentially rabid raccoons."
Taraka Larson said she was "having a really nice summer walk, just appreciating the plants and listening to Donna Summer" just after 9 p.m. Tuesday when she came across two "small and scrawny raccoons" in the path near the pond by 59th Street.
"I’ve seen raccoons in the park before, usually I just kind of stop and try not to startle them so I did that," said Larson, who had just finished a costume fitting for her band Prince Rama. "They seemed to, I don’t know, be moving in sort of a strange kind of way."
Instead of ignoring her as she had hoped, the raccoons approached Larson and started to sniff her foot. Then, she said, one jumped up, stuck his snout in her shoe, "wrapped his claws around my leg and started gnawing at me."
“I kicked the sucker off, then I kind of ran," the 26-year-old said.
Larson sought help at the nearby Plaza Hotel, where she asked the concierge if he had a BandAid or Neosporin for the multiple bite and scratch marks the raccoon left on her ankle. The hotel staff suggested that she seek treatment for rabies, so she headed to a local emergency clinic, then the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital.
“What I just thought was a bummer night with nature might be a bummer rest of my life," she said of realizing the severity of the situation.
Hospital staffers, she said, were "completely dumbfounded" by her story, asking repeatedly if the animal could have been a large squirrel or small dog. But Larson, whose story was originally reported by Gothamist, had seen raccoons before and had an Instagram photo she snapped right before the attack. They gave her more than 15 shots to fight a possible rabies infection and scheduled several follow-up visits for more.
Larson, who was released from the hospital, said she was "feeling a little loopy but definitely could be worse" Wednesday. She shared the encounter on her social media profiles, posting updates and photos of herself and the critters on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.
"Total WTF night. So grateful to be alive!" she wrote on her Facebook page.
She called animal control Wednesday morning to tell them about the raccoon, which she said "didn't feel as aggressive as it did lost, like it almost needed food or something."
"It was a really strange unsettling feeling," she said. "It felt deranged or something."
A spokesman for the Parks Department said they are looking into the incident, though Larson said she has not been contacted by anyone in the department.