A baby raccoon that was allegedly lit on fire and left in an Ontario park last month has died.
The months-old animal, dubbed Phoenix Rose, died unexpectedly last Thursday after a near-miraculous recovery, said Linda Moores of the Procyon Wildlife Centre in Beeton, Ont., north of Toronto.
“We are devastated,” she said.
“When there’s somebody special that needs special care and everyone roots for, it was hard to take.”
In early August, a woman came across the raccoon in a park in Barrie, Ont., and took it to Procyon, a registered charity that rehabilitates wild animals.
The raccoon had burns to its face, arms, belly and one side of its body. Barrie police called it a “senseless and inhumane act” and launched an animal cruelty investigation, asking for the public’s help. They believe a flammable liquid was used as an ignition source.
Two animal organizations offered a $1,500 reward for information about who may be responsible, but the money has gone uncollected.
Barrie police Const. Sarah Bamford said the investigation remains ongoing, but so far there are no suspects.
The Procyon Wildlife Centre raised thousands of dollars it used for an extensive treatment program, Moores said, along with a naming contest where hundreds wrote in.
Phoenix won with 29 votes, an homage to the Greek mythology of a bird rising from the ashes.
“We added Rose because she was a beautiful little girl,” Moores said.
A veterinarian treated the baby raccoon with antibiotics, pain medication and an ointment, she said, adding that the animal responded well to treatment and had grown much of its fur back, a scar on its nose the only indication Phoenix Rose had been burned.
Last Wednesday the animal was playing in her enclosure, Moores said. By the next morning Phoenix Rose was dead.
“We have no idea why she died,” Moores said. “Perhaps whoever burned her, they might have kicked her or done something to her internally, but we’re not sure.”
“She didn’t deserve this.”